Man sentenced for fondling girl

Published 11:29 pm Friday, April 1, 2011

A Suffolk man was sentenced to one year in jail Friday for molesting a family member while she was a teenager.

Stephen Smith Sr. pleaded guilty in September to aggravated sexual assault and five counts of indecent liberties for incidents that took place from 1996 until 2000.

The incidents started in the summer of 1996 when the girl was 13, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Belote said.

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Smith would massage the girl, rubbing her buttocks, inner thighs and genital area, Belote said.

The victim said the assaults happened regularly. More than two weeks never went by between incidents, Belote said, and the incidents lasted until the year 2000.

At his sentencing, Smith told the judge he had not realized the severity of what he had done, and he thought it wasn’t serious because there was no “fornication” involved.

He also said he now understands his actions hurt the girl but didn’t know until the charges were brought against him that she was scared of him.

Judge Rodham T. Delk Jr. said he thought Smith had started to take responsibility for his actions, even if he didn’t really understand what he did wrong.

“I’d like to think he’s started down a path of understanding,” Belote said. “Based on some of his comments today, I don’t think (his counseling) is complete by any means.”

She added his comments made her think Smith does not grasp what he did.

Belote asked for a sentence of at least five years and five months, which she said is the midpoint of the sentencing guidelines for Smith’s crimes.

Smith was sentenced to 20 years with 19 years suspended for the sexual battery charge, and five years, all suspended, for each indecent liberties charge.

“It was a lot less than I would have liked,” Belote said, adding she thought it would have been more fitting for Smith to get about a year for each of his charges.