HARTFORD, Conn. – A man who kidnapped and sexually assaulted a teenage girl who was found in his home a year after she disappeared was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday.
Adam Gault, who pleaded guilty in March, 42, of West Hartford, apologized and said he will "regret this for as long as I live."
"I stand here today very ashamed of myself and filled with deep regret," he told Hartford Superior Judge David Gold. "I have let down and failed everyone who trusted me and loved me."
The girl was 14 when she ran away from her Bloomfield home in 2006. Police had assumed she was dead by the time they searched Gault's house in June 2007 seeking evidence of her fate. They found her hiding in a storage closet.
"You hurt me like nobody else has, and I hate you for it," the girl said in a statement that a lawyer for her family read in court. "I feel that you ruined me inside in so many different ways. How will I ever know what is the truth and what's a lie."
Gault's attorney has said the girl sought a safe haven from her troubled home when she fled to Gault, a family acquaintance. But police said the girl was pale when she was discovered and had been compelled to use a new name that made her appear to be part of that family.
Gault pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexual assault in the face of what defense attorney Gerald Klein called overwhelming evidence, including an aborted fetus from the girl and DNA evidence that Gault was the father.
"Maybe you sleep better at night, Mr. Gault, telling yourself you were just trying to rescue her, you weren't trying to hurt her," Gold said before he announced the sentence. "I for one don't buy it, and I don't think anyone else does either."
Two women who also lived in Gault's home, Ann Murphy 41, and Kimberly Cray, 27, were sentenced Friday to three-year prison terms on related charges. The judge said both women also were victimized by Gault's actions.
Gold said of Cray, "She is very much a child and I am unable to say with any degree of certainty that she was in any position whatsoever, to have taken steps to protect (the girl) anymore than (the girl) was herself."
Some of the charges in Gault's plea bargain involved another Connecticut teenager who made similar allegations against him.
Gold sentenced Gault to 20 years in prison for what he did to the girl found at his house, and he added five more years for the convictions involving the other girl. Gault would serve 20 years' probation after the jail time.
The Associated Press is not naming the girls because it does not typically identify sexual assault victims.
The family of the girl who disappeared for a year has said the teen worked with Cray as a dog trainer and got to know Gault, a self-employed dog trainer, through her. The girl's stepfather also worked briefly with Gault several years earlier.
Prosecutor David Zagaja asked the judge to put Gault away in prison for 30 years, while Klein asked for a 17- to 18-year sentence so his client could be released when he is 60.
The judge declared Gault incompetent to stand trial in December and sent him to a state psychiatric hospital. Forensic evaluators had found that he was clinically depressed and unable to assist in his own defense.
Experts said Gault had dangerously high blood sugar when he arrived at the hospital, but they were able to improve his condition with medication and diet changes. Gault was found competent to stand trial in February.