|Bruce Warren LaForge|
PRESCOTT - A man who admitted to sexually abusing a boy in 1997 was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison Wednesday.
The victim came forward in June 2012, claiming that Bruce Warren LaForge, now 65, sexually molested him 15 years ago.
LaForge accepted a plea agreement, admitting to one count of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of child abuse.
Wednesday, Deputy County Attorney Kevin Schiff said the "physical and emotional harm to (the victim)... almost cost him a marriage, cost him a job."
Schiff said that, during the police-initiated confrontation telephone call, "the defendant throws it back in his face: 'You did it, too.'"
He said the victim was hoping Superior Court Judge Celé Hancock would impose the maximum sentence.
LaForge's attorney, Bruce Griffen, said that "On the badness meter... this offense is particularly offensive" but sought to explain the "numerous factors" in mitigation he wanted Hancock to consider. It was a one-time situation and involved alcohol, Griffen said, and added that LaForge is in "very poor health" and that he is in the twilight of his life.
Griffen called LaForge's history "tragic," citing the death of his father and subsequent drug use.
"Mr. LaForge isn't going anywhere. He is a lonely, isolated, sad guy," Griffen said.
LaForge told Hancock, "It was a terrible thing I did. I ask God to forgive me."
Hancock was unmoved, first saying she would not consider alcohol or drug use as a mitigating factor and listing his history of misdemeanor convictions for DUI, marijuana possession and assault.
She said it took "courage and bravery" for the victim to come forward. "I give him a lot of credit for that.
"For 15 years, while Mr. LaForge was enjoying his life," the victim was suffering, she said.
"This court does find that Mr. LaForge is a risk to the community," she concluded.
Hancock sentenced him to 12.5 years flat time - meaning he is ineligible for early release - in prison, the maximum allowable, and lifetime sex offender probation after that.