BEVERLY — A Beverly man will spend five years on probation after pleading guilty to sexually abusing two younger relatives when he was a teenager.

Matthew Stigers, 22, had been set to stand trial, when, just as jury selection was about to get under way in Salem Superior Court, he opted to plead guilty to two counts of rape of a child.

Stigers will be required to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet, is barred from any unsupervised contact with children under 14, and is also barred from any contact with either of his victims, a boy and a girl.

Prosecutor A.J. Camelio said in court that the plea will spare the children from having to testify in court, in what would have been "an extremely traumatic and difficult trial."

Defense lawyer Denise Regan called it a "heart-wrenching case," noting that Stigers himself was sexually abused as a child.

He was sent for treatment, his lawyer said, and "really gave his heart and soul" to it.

Stigers will be required to continue in sex offender treatment, register as a sex offender, and submit to random drug and alcohol testing as additional conditions of his probation.

Judge David Lowy also acknowledged that the case was "very serious and difficult" and expressed hope that the victims will find a way to heal and to understand that what happened is not their fault.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or

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