Four Plead Guilty in Mass. Child Abuse
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) _ A woman and three men pleaded guilty Friday to charges involving the sexual and physical abuse of eight children, and were given sentences of up to seven years.
The judge in the case said all four deserved longer sentences, but agreed to the pleas recommended by prosecutors to spare the victims from going through a trial.
According to authorities, the children, ranging in age from 6 to 17, were raped, beaten, forced to watch pornographic torture videos and threatened and bribed to keep quiet. Some of them came forward in 2001.
Phyllis T. Hopkins, 35, and her husband, Adam G. Hopkins, 38, pleaded guilty to abusing some of the children between 1996 and 1999. Phyllis Hopkins’ ex-husband, Robert P. Lloyd Sr., 36, and her former brother-in-law, Albert Kurtigian Sr., 51, pleaded guilty to abusing some of the children between 1992 and 1995.
One victim, now 22, trembled and cried as she told the court how ``it has taken me several years to heal from the horrible memories of the abuse and the harm done.″
In a statement read in court, another victim told the defendants, ``You’ve effectively destroyed the connection between your hearts and your souls.″
The men were sentenced to terms of between five and seven years on charges including rape, assault and dissemination of matter harmful to minors. They had been charged with child rape, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Phyllis Hopkins was sentenced to one to two years in jail on charges including lewdness and assault and battery.
A fifth defendant, Francis Dimo, 67, was sentenced last month to between five and seven years in prison for his role in the abuse ring.
Child protection authorities had been involved with the family since 1993. After a review of the case prompted by inquiries from The Associated Press, one manager was demoted and a social worker was placed on paid leave during the investigation. The worker returned to work in November.
Lawyers for Phyllis Hopkins, Lloyd and Kurtigian said their clients are sorry.
``There have been a lot of tears shed,″ said Christopher LoConto, Phyllis Hopkins’ lawyer. ``She regrets not only her actions but her failing to protect (the children). She would express to the children how sorry she is.″