JUDGE’S DECISION BLASTED (Sentences admitted child sex offender to 1 year in jail)

Newsday/Andrew Smith

John Shelton raped and sodomized his former girlfriend's 17 year old daughter for years. Butthere was little justice for the Wyandanch girl yesterday in watching the man she called Daddyget sent to jail in Riverhead. He could have been sentenced to 9 2/3 to 35 years in prison butSuffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow instead kept his agreement with Shelton and sentencedhim to 1 year in jail. With time already served since his arrest last year, he could be free assoon as April. Last month he pleaded guilty to an 11-count indictment that included charges of rapeand sodomy. Some attorneys suggested the judge might have agreed to impose a lighter sentencerather than risk having Shelton, who has no prior record, insist on his right to trial and win anacquittal. Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said, I have a lot of respect for Judge Braslow,but I strongly disagree with him in this case. He's sending the wrong message. Laura Ahearn,director of Parents For Megan's Law, an advocacy group for victims of child sex abuse, said themessage amounts to one of tolerance for sex offenders. I'm infuriated, she said. It also sends amessage that a child's innocence has little or no value. It's an irresponsible decision. It'sunacceptable.

(Riverhead, New York)