BEVERLY — A former Beverly man will spend four years in state prison, after admitting yesterday that over the course of a decade he molested both of his former girlfriend’s daughters, starting when one of the girls was just 9 years old.
Norman Fertsch, 47, pleaded guilty during a hearing in Salem Superior Court to nine counts of indecent assault and battery on a child. The plea was a result of an agreement accepted by Judge Timothy Feeley.
Prosecutor Kristen Buxton compared Fertsch’s acts, which began in 2000 and continued until just months before his arrest, to “injecting poison” into vulnerable girls, “to take their bodies and use them for his own satisfaction.”
The crimes, the prosecutor said, have also had a devastating ripple effect on the family of the girls and their mother, who in a statement to the court said she cannot forgive herself for bringing Fertsch into their lives.
“Inside my home, where I believed was a safe place for my children, turned out to be a home of torment,” said the mother, who had been in a relationship with Fertsch for years, unaware of the abuse.
The older of the girls told the judge that Fertsch had robbed her of a normal childhood and left her struggling with feelings of anger and humiliation. Her sister, who grapples with the same emotional issues, said the crimes left her humiliated and lacking in self-confidence.
Their grandmother was outraged, saying Fertsch destroyed not only her granddaughters’ self-esteem but her daughter’s, as well.
Fertsch, a carpenter, was living with the victims and their mother in Salem when, starting in the fall of 2000, he began offering the older of her daughters “massages.” Buxton said Fertsch would start with something seemingly innocent, like a back or leg rub, but soon was touching the girl inappropriately.