CRIME

Former Alabama KKK leader sentenced to prison for sex crime

A onetime Ku Klux Klan leader who served time for burning a cross near a black neighborhood is going back to prison after being convicted of sexually abusing a woman in southern Alabama.

Dale County Circuit Judge William Fillmore sentenced Steven Joshua Dinkle to 10 years in prison and fined him $1,000, according to a court order signed Thursday.

A jury convicted Dinkle, 31, of sexual abuse in June after prosecutors claimed he recorded himself sexually abusing an incapacitated woman. A letter from the victim filed this week in court asked for a tough sentence for Dinkle.

"Don't go easy on him like everyone else. Show him there are consequences for his actions," the woman wrote.

The judge gave Dinkle the maximum sentence, District Attorney Kirke Adams told reporters.

Defense attorney David Harrison said Dinkle disagreed with the verdict and plans an appeal. Harrison said he didn't know anything about Dinkle's involvement with the KKK.

Federal authorities said Dinkle once was the exalted cyclops of the Ozark branch of the International Keystone Knights, a KKK group based in Arkansas. His mother was the chapter secretary, according to the Justice Department.

Dinkle was indicted in 2013 on charges of helping burn a large cross four years earlier near a predominantly black neighborhood in Ozark, located about 85 miles (137 km) southeast of Montgomery. He later pleaded guilty to hate crime and obstruction charges.

Dinkle's mother, Pamela Morris, pleaded guilty in 2014 after being accused of lying to grand jurors about her involvement in the Klan, court documents show.

Sentenced to two years in prison, Dinkle was released on probation and later charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a pistol in April 2016.

The state sentence will run along with a 15-month federal term that Dinkle already is serving on the gun charge, records show.