STOCKTON, Calif. – A 79-year-old man who pleaded no contest to felony statutory rape of a child was sentenced to 90 days detention and will not have to register as a sex offender.
The sentence upset the parents after they gave emotional testimony at the hearing.
"I want other kids to be protected by possible future abuse by this man," the child's mother said.
Defendant Lyle Burgess was sentenced Wednesday in San Joaquin County Superior Court to detention at an alternative work program or at home, The Record newspaper of Stockton reported . He will also be under informal probation for five years.
Despite the word "rape," the crime did not involve penetration, said Robert Himelblau, supervising deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County.
Gregory Davenport, an attorney for Burgess, said the charge is based on a claim by the girl's mother that she saw Burgess stick his hand down her daughter's pants in 2016.
At the hearing, the judge reminded the parents that they felt the plea agreement was fair when it was reached, the newspaper reported. The girl is now 7.
Davenport told The Associated Press on Friday that Lyle Burgess accepted the plea deal despite being innocent because he is in frail health and wanted to move on with his life. Burgess denies ever touching the child inappropriately.
"The whole case was based upon some minor touching that my client denied even occurred," Davenport said.
The Associated Press is not naming the parents to protect the identity of the child, in line with AP's policy to avoid identifying victims of alleged sexual abuse.
A lawyer for the family, Kenneth Meleyco, did not respond to emails and a phone message by AP seeking comment.