A former school janitor from Marblehead convicted Wednesday of sexually abusing two girls will spend the next 12 to 15 years in state prison, a Salem Superior Court judge ordered yesterday.
Richard Jones, 43, was found guilty of rape and indecent assault and battery involving two relatives, who were 9 and 12 at the time.
Both girls, now 17 and 20, described the effect of Jones' crimes on their lives in victim impact statements during yesterday's sentencing.
The younger of the two said the abuse dramatically changed her life, sending her into a severe depression with suicidal thoughts.
"I could barely keep anything going," she said. Friendships fell by the wayside because of "horrible" trust issues. For three years, she was cutting herself, she said.
"Everything just fell apart for me," she told the judge.
Her sister had harsh words for Jones.
"He's scum," the young woman said. "He's mentally and physically scum."
After they reported the abuse, in 2009, they became estranged from parts of their extended family, as relatives took sides.
"The magnitude of this defendant's actions can likely never be realized," prosecutor Kim Faitella told Judge Timothy Feeley.
She urged back-to-back sentences of 10 to 12 years and two to three years, a total of 12 to 15, and a sentence that acknowledges both victims' pain.
Jones "took away their sense of security, their sense of trust and stole their innocence," Faitella said.
Faitella also urged the judge to consider evidence that Jones had also molested another girl years earlier, though he was never charged. And she expressed concern that Jones has, since being indicted in the case, taken up with a woman who has a young daughter.
That woman, who sat in court with Jones' aunt, shook her head and scowled as the prosecutor spoke. Jones' aunt would later make an obscene gesture toward photographers in the courtroom.
In letters to the judge, both women urged Feeley to show "mercy" toward Jones.
"Please go easy on him," said his aunt, Ann Jones. "He is a good person."
Defense attorney Jessica Thrall had argued to jurors that the allegations were concocted by one girl to get attention and that the other girl then saw them as an opportunity to get out of trouble for misbehaving.
She urged the judge to impose a three- to five-year prison term, pointing to Jones' "very difficult" childhood, during which he lived in housing projects; his parents divorced after his father had an affair and fathered a child with a neighbor.
Feeley said that while he would not consider the allegations for which Jones was not charged, he shared the prosecutor's view that lengthy prison time was appropriate based on the evidence and the effect the crimes had on his victims.
He followed the prosecution's sentencing recommendation, imposing a total of 12 to 15 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised probation, including GPS monitoring, sex offender treatment, and an order that Jones have no contact with either victim and no unsupervised contact with any child under 16.
Feeley also denied a request for a stay of the sentence pending an appeal.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or email@example.com.