Abuse leads to a lengthy prison term

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

A man accused of sexually abusing at least four girls over the last three decades was brought to justice Thursday.

Suffolk Circuit Court Judge Westbrook J. Parker sentenced 62-year-old Mack Stephenson to 52 years in prison for his abuse of young girls that dates back to the mid-1970s.

Stephenson was sentenced to 30 years each for three counts of sexual penetration, five years each for two counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor, five years each for taking indecent liberties with a minor in a custodial relationship and 10 years each for two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Parker suspended more than half of the original 130-year sentence.

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Stephenson was arrested in June 2004, after he allegedly touched the breasts of a 12-year-old passenger exiting the church van that he was driving, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Marie Walls.

&uot;What is most troubling is that some of this abuse occurred in a church,&uot; said Parker. &uot;A church is one place where children should feel safe and secure.&uot;

After Stephenson was arrested, allegations from other victims came to light.

One woman, now 42, said Stephenson’s abuse years ago still impacts her relationships with other people.

&uot;Seeing him today brought back these memories,&uot; said the woman. &uot;Knowing it is still going on with these young girls today makes no sense. It has got to stop.&uot;

Prior to his sentencing, Stephenson asked the court for mercy.

&uot;I know I did wrong,&uot; he said. &uot;Please give me another chance. I am a good man and have made peace with God during my incarceration (since his arrest).&uot;