by Carey Wedler, The Anti-Media
A wealthy businessman in Stockton, California, was sentenced last week to 90 days of house arrest and five years of informal probation for the “statutory rape” of a five year-old girl.
Lyle Burgess, 79, who founded an auto parts company, plead no contest to felony statutory rape charges. San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Ron Northup sentenced him to either 90 days of house arrest or a work program. Burgess’ attorney, Gregory Davenport, said he will likely choose the former due to his age and health.
Burgess insists he is innocent despite firm accusations from the family, which had previously considered him a trusted friend. The family alleges that the rape occurred when Burgess invited the family to his cabin in Calaveras County, CA in 2016, the Stockton Record reported Wednesday. Supervising deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County Robert Himelblau has reportedly said the crime did not involve penetration.
According to the family and their attorney, the girl, who is now seven, continues to suffer from the traumatic incident. “The girl is not doing good,” said attorney Ken Meleyco. “She’s showing all the symptoms of somebody who’s been molested. She’s in counseling, and she’s gonna be in counseling all her life.“
“I don’t have too many prized possessions in this world other than my family,” said her father, who has known Burgess for two decades. “(My daughter) will remember this the rest of her life. She sleeps on the floor outside our room.”
Meleyco expressed concern and outrage that “future victims are not protected,” suggesting Burgess is evading accountability because of his financial status.
“Normally the sentence is state prison and then when you’re released, you have to register as a sex offender,” he said, adding that “He’s obviously very wealthy, and it’s just an example of how the wealthy people, time and time again, escape the penalty for what they did.”
In contrast, Davenport, Burgess’ attorney, claimed the family’s accusations are an attempt to make money. “I believe the allegations are motivated by greed. They are using this instance to try to gain financially,” he said.
The victim’s mother stands by the allegations. I’m incredibly disgusted by his behavior and continuously disgusted by his lies,” she said, according to the Stockton Record.
Local outlet Fox 40 questioned Deputy District Attorney Kathy Murray as to why Burgess was only charged with statutory rape and will not have to register as a sex offender. Murray referred Fox 40 to a media spokesperson who did not respond to their request for comment.
The Stockton Record reported that “[Judge] Northup told the parents their statements do have an impact but ‘courts are somewhat limited’ in ruling on a negotiated plea and reminded them that at the time it was reached, they felt it was fair.”
The family has filed a civil suit seeking unspecified damages for “sexual abuse and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
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