LACONIA — A former auxiliary police officer in Whitman, Mass. was sentenced to serve five to 10 years in prison yesterday for digitally penetrating his 11- and 12-year-old granddaughters while on a family camping trip in Yogi Bear Camp Ground in New Hampton in August of 2014. One year of that sentence can be suspended for good behavior.
Irving Small, 70, was also sentenced to a second 10- to 20-year term — all suspended — provided he be of good behavior and complete a year-long sexual offender program while in the New Hampshire State Prison. Should he not complete the program, the 10-to 20-year sentence would be served consecutively to his first sentence.
"I'm totally ashamed of myself," Small said barely choking out the words through his tears. "I totally hurt my family."
Some members of Small's family were in the court room including his two victims. The girls' mother told O'Neill she accepted the sentence because she didn't want to put her children through a lengthy trial.
Small said he wanted to apologize to them however, after a side bar consultation between Assistant Belknap County Attorney Carley Ahern and Small's attorney Howard Clayman, O'Neill said Small could address the court but not look at the girls while he spoke.
"I want to tell my grandkids I'm very, very sorry," he said.
O'Neill wanted to know why he should accept such a light sentence when if Small had pleaded guilty to all four of the aggravated sexual assault charges he was initially indicted for, he could sent him to jail for up to 60 years.
Clayman said Small's health has suffered in the 192 days he has been incarcerated while awaiting trial. He said his client has high blood pressure, depression and has been treated at the hospital on more than one occasion. He has lost more than 50 pounds during that time.
He said Small has a stomach aneurism that will need surgery within a year and the surgery could be fatal.
"Five or four years could be a life sentence," Clayman said.
Clayman also noted that if Small is released from prison in New Hampshire he faces similar charges in Massachusetts.
"The (Commonwealth) of Massachusetts will deal with him how they will assuming he is alive," said Clayman.
The youngest of Small victim's had Belknap County Victim's Advocate Brenda Belmont read her statement to the court for her.
The girl told the court that she has nightmares and she used to cry everyday. She said sometimes she feels completely numb and that she is "sad when there is no reason to be."
She said she was learning to accept what had happened to her and "it will always be a bad memory of the past."
She also told O'Neill she would not let what happened to her define who she is.
After deliberating for a moment or too, O'Neill chose to accept the plea bargain.
He told Small that his "betrayal of his family was completely unacceptable" and that they have in some part forgiven him by not objecting to what he considers a light sentence.