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NY man with hard past gets 25 years in child rape

A man who was a poster child for victimized children has been sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for raping and choking a 10-year-old girl.

Adam Croote — whose own childhood was so wrenching that he was invited to the White House at age 7 as a symbol of the plight of missing children — was sentenced Friday, The Times Union reported (http://bit.ly/JB6Lyf ). Croote, 23, pleaded guilty in March to attacking a child he was babysitting.

The girl's family knew Croote was a registered sex offender before the assault last June at a home in Berne, near Albany, the newspaper said, citing court documents. But the relatives nonetheless asked Croote to watch the child after school one afternoon, authorities said.

She managed to escape as he tried to strangle her, authorities said.

Croote's own life story is horrible.

When he was 2, his father killed his pregnant mother and left him alone with her body in Hinesville, Ga.

Two years later, his maternal grandparents abducted him during a custody fight. His face was on missing-child fliers for three years until they were captured, living under assumed names.

In 1996, Croote and his paternal grandmother went to the White House to see President Bill Clinton sign a policy to put missing-children posters in federal buildings. A photo shows the small boy standing near Clinton's side as the president writes.

But Croote's troubles continued. As a teen, he was convicted of sexually assaulting an instructor at a home for troubled young people in Wendell, Mass.

He returned to the Albany area five years ago and was arrested about two years later when he failed to register as a convicted sex offender, authorities said. He later registered.

"Since he was a sex offender, we knew who he was, what he was, where he was," Albany County Under Sheriff Craig Apple said after Croote was arrested in the attack on the 10-year-old girl. "We just prayed that he didn't re-offend. There is only so much we can do."

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Information from: Times Union, http://www.timesunion.com

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