The stepdaughter and stepniece who were victims of child molester Paul S. Turley spoke about their ordeals Friday after a judge sentenced him to 15 to 30 years in prison.
“If you have a life similar to mine, tell the police,” said Jennifer Morrison, his stepdaughter.
Morrison explained how Turley's abuse in the 1990s in North Tonawanda harmed her.
“The abuse affected me so deeply, it changed my basic personality,” said Morrison, who is now married and pregnant with her first child. “I have to struggle with the fear of trying to protect my own child.”
Alexa Stitt, the stepniece, called Turley's sentence to the maximum term a relief and “shows justice was done and crimes like this won't be tolerated.”
The Buffalo News customarily does not identify victims of sex crimes. But Morrison and Stitt asked to be named and their accounts reported because they believe their experiences might lead other victims of childhood sexual assaults to come forward.
“It's extremely difficult to decide to tell,” Morrison said. “My mother didn't believe me. I knew a lot of people wouldn't.”
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas sentenced Turley to the maximum sentence available at the time of the crimes, but he would have faced up to 39 years in prison and 20 years of post-release supervision under current law.
“I wish it was longer,” Morrison said of his sentence. “I wish it was forever.”
Turley, in a choked voice, told the judge he hopes to be released someday.
“All I'm looking for is not to spend the rest of my life in prison until I die,” said Turley, 48.
The victims, who are now 22, did not report the allegations against Turley to North Tonawanda police until late 2011.
They told police Turley had repeatedly fondled them, with one of the victims accusing him of abuse as far back as 1994, when she was 4 years old.
A jury convicted Turley of abusing the girls between August 1996 and June 1998, dates chosen because they fell within the statute of limitations.
Turley also was convicted of fondling Stitt again on Christmas Day 2003.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello said two other victims have accused Turley, but the alleged crimes fell outside the statute of limitations.
Turley, of Dunkirk, lived in North Tonawanda at the time of the crimes.
He was not in court to hear the jury's verdict against him Jan. 28. He left the courthouse during a lunch break Jan. 23 and fled.
He and his wife, Diane G. Turley, took their two dogs and eventually ended up in a trailer park outside Tucson, Ariz. They were captured Feb. 21.
Paul Turley has been held without bail since he was returned to Niagara County on March 14.
In an April 29 court appearance, he asked Farkas to let him change attorneys because he thought the lawyer he had hired for the trial, D. Daniel Stevanovic, did a poor job.
Farkas refused. “How would you know? You weren't here,” she told him.
Friday, Stevanovic said Turley left because prosecutors had requested that his bail be revoked as the result of alleged pretrial contact with Morrison.
“It was his belief he was going to be remanded,” Stevanovic said.
“His fear and anxiety about being sent back to jail overcame reason, and he left.”
Turley acknowledged making a “stupid decision. I was afraid of losing my family,” he said. “I panicked, and I ran.”
Assistant District Attorney Cheryl L. Nichols told Farkas that Turley's comments in a presentencing interview with a probation officer showed that he does not take responsibility for his actions and that he was concerned only about the case's impact on himself, his wife and his mother.
“We can see he doesn't think he did anything wrong. He thinks the absence of physical injury is the absence of all injury,” Nichols said. “He still thinks he's the victim here.”
The prosecutor added that Turley's willingness to blame others for his problems and “his narcissistic attitude are what make him a dangerous predator.”
Farkas said a 1994 Child Protective Services report remarked on abuse that had already occurred.
“Why did the abuse continue after it was indicated in 1994?” she asked Turley.
Turley did not answer her question.
“Regardless of the outcome of the trial, there was information I could have used to clear my name on one of the charges,” he said.
“Really?” Farkas replied. “I wish you had stayed, because you would have heard the most amazing testimony against you that I've ever heard in 30 years in the system.”
Diane Turley, 51, of Lily Dale, surrendered to Lockport police April 2 and pleaded guilty in City Court to a misdemeanor, attempted hindering prosecution. She is awaiting sentencing.
Jurors interviewed by The News after Paul Turley's trial said a key piece of evidence was a recording of a Dec. 19, 2011, phone call between Morrison and Turley.
During the conversation, Turley admitted that he had physical contact with Morrison when she was a little girl.
“In my misguided mind, the things we were doing together were not bad,” he said.
Farkas issued an order of protection that forbids all contact with the victims until 10 years after his release.
“It wasn't an accident,” Morrison said of the abuse. “How dare he think I would ever forgive him?”