City man gets 106 years in child sex case
Published 9:02 am Saturday, June 27, 2015
An Elizabethton man received an effective sentence of 106 years on Friday following his guilty plea to numerous charges related to inappropriate conduct with children and child pornography.
In May, James Alan Perry, 55, of Elizabethton, entered a guilty plea to 59 counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of sexual exploitation of a minor and three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure. As part of his plea agreement with the state, charges of aggravated sexual battery, two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor and two counts of indecent exposure with a victim under 13 years of age were dismissed.
On Friday, Perry appeared before Judge Lisa Rice for a sentencing hearing, during which the court heard explicit details of the case as well as testimony from the mother of the primary victim.
The mother told the court Perry had been a friend of the family for several years and the two families frequently visited each other and would often spend holidays together.
In addition to the friendship between Perry and the victim’s family, the victim was also friends with Perry’s granddaughter and would often spend the night at Perry’s home visiting her friend, the mother said.
“He was like a family member,” the mother said. “She had picked up calling him ‘Papaw,’ and that is what she always called him.”
Over the years, Perry gave her daughter several gifts, including video games and clothing, the mother said. Once he bought the child a gift that caught her attention.
“He bought her a bathing suit that I felt was inappropriate for her,” the mother said, adding her daughter was 13 at the time. “It was too racy for her age.”
Despite that gift, the mother testified she never had any indication that her daughter was being molested by Perry.
“I had absolutely no idea,” she said.
Investigators were able to determine the abuse began when the girl was about 10 years old and continued until she was 13.
The charges against Perry stem from an investigation conducted by Elizabethton Police Department Sgt. Christopher Bowers in August 2014 after police received a complaint alleging Perry showed two 9-year-old girls pornographic materials on his computer, exposed himself to both of them and inappropriately touched one of them, Bowers said.
As part of the investigation, a search warrant was executed at Perry’s residence and officers seized Perry’s computer for analysis as well as several camera photo storage cards Perry had kept in a safe, Bowers said.
Several photographs of the woman’s daughter were found on Perry’s computer and police were able to identify the girl and spoke with her mother as part of the investigation.
Since the girl’s sexual abuse at the hands of Perry was brought to light, the mother said her daughter has become more withdrawn and her school grades have fallen.
“She clings more closely to home,” the mother said. “She doesn’t like to go too far away from me or her dad.”
The girl also used to enjoy socializing with friends and spending time in the outdoors but has stopped showing much interest in those activities, she said.
“He took something away that cannot be given back — her innocence,” the mother said. “What he deserves is the absolute maximum he can get with absolutely no chance of him doing this again.”
“I don’t want another parent to go through this because of him,” she added. “I do hope he never walks again on the streets.”
Perry did not speak in court during his sentencing hearing but instead asked his attorney, David Crichton, to read a letter he had written apologizing to the child’s mother.
“I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I never meant for any of this to happen. I have let so many people down,” Perry said in his letter. “I let things get out of hand by letting kids get away with things and got caught up in it.”
“I hope somehow you can find it in your heart to forgive me,” Perry continued. “I know I will spend the rest of my life regretting what I have done. I hope they will look at this as my first time in trouble and not have me die in prison.”
Prior to setting Perry’s sentence, Judge Rice had to describe the nature of the photographs and videos found during the investigation.
“There are multiple acts of a sexual nature in the photographs,” Rice said, adding police also found very explicit pornographic videos on the computer which did not show the female victim. “It is the court’s opinion these videos were used in the grooming of the child, which the court believes happened over an extended period of time.”
As Rice put the description of the photographs into the record the child’s mother wept silently in the courtroom and Perry sat looking down at his hands.
“Unbeknownst to (the mother) and the family, the child was undergoing a sexual tutorial at the hands of Mr. Perry,” Rice said, adding that while the family thought Perry loved the child “he was only using her for his planned sexual gratification.”
Rice sentenced Perry to serve 12 years on each of the 59 counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. Many of those counts she ruled to run concurrently with each other but she set seven of the counts to run consecutively, making an effective sentence of 84 years on those offenses, which must be served at 100 percent of completion.
On the three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, Rice sentenced Perry to six years on each count with each sentence to run consecutive, creating an effective 18 year sentence on those offenses, which must be served at a 30 percent completion rate.
Rice sentenced Perry to 4 years at 30 percent completion on the single count of sexual exploitation of a minor and set that sentence to run consecutive to the other convictions.
In total, Perry received an effective sentence of 106 years in prison on all of the counts.
“Should you come out of prison you will be required to register as a sex offender,”Rice told Perry.