Originally created 06/05/99

Molester receives 20 years



A Harlem man who admitted to having sexual relations with a child he baby-sat received a 20-year prison sentence Friday.

Thomas Edward Stark, 25, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to three counts of aggravated child molestation.

Mr. Stark was accused of having sexual relations with a 10-year-old on three occasions between Aug. 31, 1998 and Jan. 27, 1999, while he was babysitting the girl, Assistant District Attorney Nancy Johnson said Friday.

The girl was inflicted with a sexually transmitted disease and suffered tissue tears as a result of the molestation, Ms. Johnson told Judge Albert M. Pickett during the sentencing hearing.

Defense attorney Kirk Gilliard told the judge Mr. Stark is extremely remorseful for what he did. Mr. Stark, who didn't even ask for release on bond pending trial, had no prior criminal record, Mr. Gilliard said.

Mr. Stark had earned his GED and worked steadily until his arrest, his attorney said.

Mr. Stark will have to serve 90 percent of his sentence before he will be considered for parole.

One of the four counts of aggravated child molestation was dismissed by the prosecutor because the event occurred in Columbia County, outside the Richmond County court's jurisdiction.

Sandy Hodson covers courts for The Augusta Chronicle. She may be reached at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.