AIKEN - A Belvedere man was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years after an Aiken County jury found him guilty of molesting six girls ages 11 to 14 during a four-year span.
Robert Dewey Frain, 36, also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Prosecutors said Mr. Frain fondled a relative who was living in his home and also performed lewd acts on five of her friends who spent the night at the home during various times between October 1998 and June 2002.
A jury of eight women and four men deliberated for 2 1/2 hours before convicting Mr. Frain of eight counts of lewd act upon a child, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of exposure of private parts in a lewd manner.
Prosecutors agreed to drop a count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor after the jury couldn't agree on a verdict for that charge.
"My kids have been through hell over there," the father of one of the girls told General Sessions Judge Perry Buckner during sentencing. "Both my daughter and son can get on with their life and get away from this mental torture. They're under my wing now, and life's going to go on."
According to testimony from the six girls during the two-day trial, Mr. Frain would venture into the girl's room and fondle her and her sleep-over guests and perform lewd acts in their presence.
"I don't want him to get out and do this to someone else," one of the girls tearfully told Judge Buckner.
Mr. Frain, who ran a vinyl siding business before he was arrested in October, sat expressionless as the verdict was read.
During sentencing he maintained his innocence.
"I did not commit these crimes, sir," Mr. Frain told the judge.
In closing arguments, Assistant 2nd Circuit Solicitor Brenda Brisbin noted that Mr. Frain removed the carpeting in three rooms of his mobile home before surrendering to authorities and repainted the girl's bedroom, possibly to remove physical evidence.
"He left the carpet in the room where he didn't molest these girls - the master bedroom," she said.
Ms. Brisbin told the jury that the girls didn't come forward with the allegations until last year, when the girl who lived at the home had moved out.
"They waited until she was safe ... until he couldn't do anything to her," she said.
Reach Stephen Gurr at (803) 648-1394.