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Pratte sentences two men in separate child molestation cases

FARMINGTON — Circuit Court Judge Kenneth W. Pratte sentenced two St. Francois County men to a lot of time in prison in unrelated child molestation cases.

Chadrick Taylor, 29, of Desloge was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Russell Johnson, 40, of Park Hills was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Taylor had pleaded guilty to first-degree statutory sodomy and sexual misconduct involving children by indecent exposure on December 22.

The sentencing hearing for Taylor was an emotional one as his family and the two victims’ families were in the courtroom.

One of the victims’ mothers was allowed to give a victim impact statement. She told the judge that the last year and a half had torn her family apart. She said her daughter’s innocence had been ripped away.

She asked the judge to sentence Taylor to the maximum sentence, which was 18 years.

According to court records, the girl, who was under the age of 14, told officers she was touched inappropriately by Taylor on several occasions.

This girl and another girl also told officers Taylor exposed himself and touched himself in front of them on more than one occasion. They said Taylor threatened to kill them if they told anyone.

When questioned by officers, Taylor admitted he “digitally penetrated” the girl but denied having sex with her. He told officers she had been sexually aggressive toward him.

Daris Almond Jr., Taylor’s attorney, asked the judge to ignore some of the facts presented in the presentence investigation report, which was compiled by the state Board of Probation of Parole to determine if he was a good candidate for probation.

The presentence investigation report preparer’s recommendation to the court was not to grant the request for probation. Almond argued the preparer’s report was unprofessionally written and borderline unethical.

Almond argued his client did not have any prior convictions or arrests. He said Taylor has been an active and productive member of society. He said Taylor is active in his church, has coached community teams, has worked with charitable organizations and has musical talents.

“Chad is an upstanding citizen,” Almond said. He said Taylor is not a danger to society and is not likely to offend again. He told the judge that prison does not offer the necessary environment to be properly rehabilitated.

Almond said Taylor has admitted he touched the girl and is horrified by the act. He said Taylor has realized he made a mistake and has sought counseling. He said the actions were done in a moment of weakness.

“… Those girls are not innocent bystanders,” Almond told the judge.

“Be careful making such an argument with this court,” Judge Pratte cautioned Almond.

But Almond went on to say some of today’s younger teens are more sexually active and aggressive. He said this is not an excuse but the pressure sustained on his client led to “this moment of weakness.”

Almond repeatedly referred to the incident as one moment of weakness.

After Almond was done making his arguments, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Patrick King said it was outrageous to blame the victims of the case. He said it was not merely a mistake, it was a crime against two different people that occurred multiple times.

King added that in the presentence investigation report, Taylor said he did it “to teach her a lesson.”

“I can’t imagine someone taking a more pathetic stance,” King said.

He said Taylor has given the court no alternative but to lock him away.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge sentenced Taylor to 18 years.

The judge then told the audience that a number of people wrote letters to him asking him to consider probation. He said that before taking Taylor’s plea in December, he made sure that Taylor did admit to doing it. He said Taylor admitted to the heinous crimes in open court.

He said blaming the victims doesn’t work in this court and it never will.

In the other case, Johnson, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He had entered Alford pleas to five counts of first-degree statutory sodomy. By entering an Alford plea, he did not admit to any element of the charges.

Johnson will have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence since the victim was under the age of 12.

According to court records, a girl told police she had been molested by Johnson several times a week for the past year or more.

When questioned, Johnson told officers he molested her two or three times a week for over a year and a half. He denied having sex with her but said he fondled her.

He later took back his confession.

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