Man sentenced for abduction

Published 10:29 pm Monday, November 17, 2014

A Portsmouth man was sentenced to a year in jail at his sentencing hearing for abduction and assault and battery charges on Monday.

A jury convicted Therman Edward Ames of the charges after a 13-year-old girl told police in April 2013 that the incident happened near Higher Ground Church on Bank Street.

The girl, who knew the suspect before the incident, said he pulled up next to her and, after making small talk, asked her to get in his vehicle. When she refused, he got out and forced her in, then pulled up her dress and touched her leg. When she escaped, he forced her in again and drove the girl to her grandmother’s house, where he pinned her again the vehicle by placing his hands on her forehead.

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In court Monday, Ames’ defense attorney, Michael Massie, suggested Ames’ laying his hands on the girl’s forehead was part of praying for her. In a statement before he was sentenced, Ames denied all the other allegations.

“I’m not guilty,” he said. “These charges are utterly false. I’ve never stooped to such levels in my life. There is not a shred of truth in it.”

He concluded by saying he is “a man of God.”

Seven family members and friends spoke in favor of his character, saying he has long been devoted to helping young people stay on the right path.

“I’ve always known him to be devoted to working with troubled … youth,” said Portia Rawles, who said the two would visit local juvenile detention centers to do ministry together. “I’ve never seen him as someone that would be a threat or danger to youth or the community.”

Shonda Ames, the defendant’s daughter-in-law, said he has been a blessing to her family, which includes four children ranging in age from 5 to 15.

“It’s all very surreal, because he is not the kind of person that should be sitting in that chair,” she said.

Prosecutor Jim Wiser pointed out that the victim has had nightmares and been despondent since the incident. Ames and his attorney were trying to make the incident out to be “some kind of faux religious experience,” he said. The girl’s mother and grandmother witnessed that part of the incident, after they had arrived at the grandmother’s house, and testified during the trial that Ames did not appear to be “laying on hands” as they were familiar with it in their church, Wiser said.

Massie, after losing a motion to set aside the verdict, argued for a completely suspended sentence.

The judge partially obliged, saying he had been impressed by the witnesses and adding he would not have been surprised if the verdict were not guilty.

He suspended a year-long sentence and $2,500 fine for the assault and battery charge and imposed a 42-month sentence for the abduction charge, suspending 30 months and leaving a year to serve.

Ames also was ordered to have no contact with the victim and pay for her counseling up to $1,000. He’ll report to jail Dec. 1 and be on supervised probation for three years after he gets out.