A Michigan Avenue man found guilty of sex crimes against a 12-year-old girl was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in prison.
“I think you stole her innocence. You destroyed her trust,” Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case said as he sentenced James H. Washington, 59.
Washington had faced a possible sentence of 32 years. He was 56 years old at the time of the crimes.
Washington made a long, rambling statement in which he lashed out at the police and the girl’s mother but also professed to serve God and others and continues to love those in the family he victimized.
“I have no remorse being in prison, praising God,” Washington said.
At one point, Case asked those in the gallery to refrain from reacting to Washington’s statements. The victim’s mother cursed Washington during his statement.
In November, jurors convicted Washington of first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and second-degree criminal sexual act. Washington has known the girl and her family for years through his relationship with one of the girl’s relatives.
Jurors found that he engaged in at least a half dozen acts of oral sodomy and sexual intercourse with the girl from November 2009 to April 2010.
The girl delayed reporting the sexual abuse because she feared how the revelation would affect her family, her mother said during her victim-impact statement.
“She kept it inside because she knew the damage it would do to the family,” the victim’s mother said.
Now, the girl, angry and distrusting, undergoes counseling as she deals with the emotional pain of what happened, the mother said.
The mother bristled at comments Washington made to a probation officer who prepared his presentencing report. Washington told the probation officer the child “is a very, very good actor.”
“She’s not an actress,” her mother said. “She didn’t make any of this up.”
The girl revealed the abuse to her mother about a year after the last incident. By then, her school grades had suffered, and the mother had grown alarmed because her daughter insisted on staying in her bedroom. The girl’s behavior also turned worrisome, such as when she began cutting her arms.
“She was cutting herself,” her mother said in court. “Was that part of her routine?”
“There’s really not much more that can be said to describe the breach of trust in such a violent way,” said Rosanne E. Johnson, chief of the Special Victims Bureau of the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
Defense attorney Joseph J. Terranova said Washington has accepted responsibility for his actions, despite his comments to the probation officer and lack of an apology in court.
“We have forgiven him,” the girl’s mother said. “Angry? Yes. I don’t hate him.”