Danville's Patricia Harris gets 15 years for abuse

Date: 2008-09-07
Source: amnews.com

By TODD KLEFFMAN
tkleffman@amnews.com

Fifteen years in prison await a Danville woman who sexually and physically abused her three adopted children, after she signed a plea deal with prosecutors.

The agreement recommends that Patricia Harris serve 10 years for second-degree sodomy and five years for first-degree sexual abuse, and requires her to register as a sex offender.

The deal also includes 10 years each for three counts of criminal abuse to run concurrently, meaning Harris will serve a total of 15 years.

If Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler approves the agreement, Harris will be formally sentenced Oct. 14.

Harris, 54, of 629 Apache Trail pleaded to crimes involving three sisters, ages 5, 6 and 8, whom Harris adopted after they were placed in her home by the state for foster care. The girls have since been placed with other foster families in town.

"From a prosecutor's point of view I'm satisfied and I think the social workers and the families involved with the young ladies are satisfied," Commonwealth's Attorney Richie Bottoms said Friday.

Though Harris was initially charged with first-degree sodomy, a Class A felony carrying a sentence range of 20 years to life in prison, Bottoms said he accepted a plea agreement on the second-degree sodomy charge and 15-year sentence, in part, to keep the children from having to testify at a trial.

"One factor you look at is what's best for the children involved," he said. "Most adults find it traumatic to go into that setting and testify, and I think that is amplified when a child is involved."

Court records show that the girls accused Harris of biting their tongues, fingers and lip area, hitting them in the face, causing bruising, and throwing and pushing them down a staircase.

She also reportedly threw the 6-year-old into a bathtub, causing bruising on her arms and legs, and bent the child's fingers backward, breaking them.

At the request of defense attorneys, Peckler ordered a mental competency evaluation to determine if Harris was competent to stand trial. Evaluators pronounced her fit for trial.

Copyright:The Advocate-Messenger 2008
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