Couple sentenced to prison for sexual abuse of adopted daughter

Date: 2007-09-15

Couple sentenced to prison for sexual abuse of adopted daughter

Clara Garcia News-Bulletin Staff Writer;

A Los Lunas couple who pleaded guilty five months ago to sexually abusing their adopted daughter over a two-year period pleaded with a judge for mercy during their sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Ellery James, 26, and his wife Krisi, 24, pleaded guilty in April to molesting their adopted daughter, who reported the abuse to Children Youth and Families officials in May 2006. Ellery James pleaded to two first-degree felony counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual penetration by a person in a position of authority.

Krisi James pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual penetration of a minor, one count of criminal sexual penetration by a person in a position of authority and one count to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

District Judge John Pope sentenced Ellery James to a total of 45 years in prison and Krisi James to 18 years. Both will be required to serve 85 percent of their sentences because the crimes are considered serious violent offenses.

The couple's adopted daughter, who is now living with another family, asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence on both, saying that what they did to her ruined her life. She was 12 to 14 years old when the incidents occurred.

The teenager told Pope that she feels mostly betrayed by Krisi, who she not only thought of as a mother, but as her best friend. "She could have stopped it, and she didn't," the girl said. "I hope she goes to jail for life so she can't hurt anyone ever again."

As for her adopted father, the girl said that she trusted him to protect her, but he betrayed that trust. "He not only betrayed my trust and my love, but he disrespected my boundaries, he destroyed my confidence and took everything from me," she said. "He ruined my future because I can't trust anyone"

Deputy District Attorney Ron Lopez also asked Pope to impose the maximum sentence, saying that both Ellery and Krisi James "groomed" the girl into participating in sexual acts with both of them. He said that the Jameses would take photographs and videotape the sexual encounters with their adopted daughter.

"It got to a point when it came to be a daily situation," Lopez said. "He had (the daughter) put on his wife's wedding dress, and he gave her a wedding ring to symbolize that she was his second wife."

Ellery James' mother, Debra, spoke on her son's behalf, telling the judge that her oldest son is a person not without hope and has also suffered through this situation by losing his wife, his children and his freedom.

"It is with great sorrow, disappointment, fears and prayers that I'm in this courtroom today on behalf of my oldest child, Ellery James," she said. "He has had to learn the hard way the painful results of sin. He has also suffered reproach and persecution too numerous to list. But if there is someone who I am sure would never be standing before you for something like this again, it would be my son Ellery."

Ellery James himself told the judge that he takes responsibility for his actions and that he'd rather die than hurt someone else as he did.

"I plan to be an example of a second chance," he said. "I won't throw it away. I want to be able to be a role model for my children. I ask that your sentence not only have justice, but to have mercy."

Before handing down his sentence, Pope said he didn't think that Ellery James had an "any particular strong psychological pathologies" and said that he believed the defendant took advantage of a situation that presented itself.

"I don't think he's a true pedophile or whatever the term is for somebody who preys on young adolescent females," Pope said. "He's probably curable. I don't think he's healthy; he's got a weak personality, but I don't think he's dangerous to society in terms of his willingness to take advantage of a situation."

Krisi James also asked the judge for leniency and apologized to her adopted daughter. She told Pope that despite being "ill prepared" to have the girl in her house, she thought of her as her daughter and best friend.

"The media and the prosecution has made me out to be a big monster <!--MDASH--> — <!--ENDMDASH--> I am no monster," Krisi James told the judge. "I want to ask for your mercy, and I hope that you can find it in your heart to give me a chance in raising my kids."

The judge said "I believe that she may have been somewhat frightened or she thought this was some way to save her younger children, but I can't get around the fact that she was a willing participant. The most painful thing for her, and something that I do recognize, is that she will not be able to see her children grow up, and that's got to be utterly devastating."

The Los Lunas couple was arrested and charged after their adopted daughter walked into the CYFD office in Los Lunas to report her parents had sexually abused her. State officials immediately contacted Los Lunas police, who investigated the case.

According to court documents, when the police arrived, the teenager handed them a letter she'd written stating that that she had been touched by her adopted father.

The girl then reached into her bag and produced several photographs that showed sexual misconduct by both Ellery and Krisi James. The court documents say that the photographs also depicted the teenager involved in the sexual activity. The girl told the officers that there were additional photographs in a digital camera at the couple's Los Lunas home.

Later that day, officers executed a search warrant at the James apartment and confiscated numerous items including cameras, photographs, computer discs, a computer hard drive, clothing and a videocamera.

The girl told police that the abuse began in the spring or summer of 2004 and continued until two weeks before she came forward.


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