A Benton County judge said Friday that an 11-year prison sentence for a convicted rapist isn't nearly enough after hearing a young girl testify about being repeatedly violated.
Judge Bruce Spanner said he was offended that Patrick Gale Wilson could commit such a "heinous crime," but noted that he was limited by sentencing guidelines and only could order 11 years and four months at the top of the range.
How much time Wilson actually spends behind bars above the mandatory minimum is up to him since the sex crime makes it an indeterminate sentence, Spanner said. Wilson's eventual release date will be decided by the state Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.
"Whether or not you can persuade this committee that you're no longer a danger to the community, I suspect that's going to require you to admit your involvement in this and get some kind of treatment. I'm just speculating," Spanner said.
Never miss a local story.
Wilson, 32, continues to deny sexually assaulting the grade-school girl during two years.
The crimes happened between January 2007 and December 2008, but didn't come to light until September 2009. The case was investigated by Benton County sheriff's detectives after the girl told her mother, and later an elementary school counselor, about the abuse.
A Benton County Superior Court jury convicted him in September of first-degree child rape. The victim testified during the weeklong trial and was able to describe the acts in great detail.
Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra recommended the lengthy term, saying Wilson groomed the girl over time so he could get close to her and is a threat to public safety.
Defense lawyer Sylvia Cornish said her client clearly has some mental health issues, even though they weren't mentioned at trial.
A sentence at the low end of "8 1/2 years holds Mr. Wilson accountable for what it's said that he did and for what was told to the jury," she said. "It's a very sad situation for everybody. I hope that some healing can go on today."
Cornish added that Wilson will be on lifetime supervision after his release from prison and will have to register as a sex offender, which will forever place his behavior under the scrutiny of the state Department of Corrections.
Wilson, who appeared to choke up while addressing the court, said he is confused about the whole thing.
"I don't really understand how this came about. ... It just really bothers me that all this happened. I just don't understand how it happened, and I don't really understand what everybody is talking about," he said. "It doesn't make sense to me. I'm throwing myself at your mercy."
Wilson said his mother has health problems and his brother is handicapped, so he would like to go home and take care of his family, who have been with him his whole life.
The judge said it was the circumstances of the sex crime and Wilson's refusal to acknowledge his responsibility in the matter that led him to settle on the lengthy minimum sentence.
"That was a most unpleasant trial for all of us to have to sit through. To have to watch that little girl. I teared up today just thinking about her testimony," Spanner told Wilson. "... These things have a devastating impact on little kids, and our Legislature recognizes that by virtue of the type of sentence that's being imposed here."
Spanner also ordered Wilson to have no contact with the victim for the rest of his life.
"No, I'm fine with that," Wilson responded. "I don't want to see her again anyways."
A document was filed stating that Wilson intends to appeal his conviction.