Infamous child abuse case comes to a close

Date: 2008-11-20

Infamous child abuse case comes to a close

November 20, 2008
Angela Blanchard

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- One of the worst cases of child abuse in Alaska history came to a close Thursday with the sentencing of a Big Lake man, convicted of the final assault charge in the case.

Back in August, George Long, 69, and his wife Shirley were both in court facing charges of failing to report a violent crime against their adopted grandson at the hands of the Long's daughter, Sherry Kelly.

All but George Long's one assault charge were thrown out, and after Thursday's sentencing, he is a free man.

Long, about to find out if he'd serve any more time in prison, said in court, "I'm sorry that the Kelly kids suffered so much for the life they were handed."

Long's conviction of fourth degree assault for chaining the child to a dog run is a misdemeanor. But it's the bigger picture the prosecution considered.

Prosecutors said Long and his wife Shirley were initially supposed to help the state prosecute their daughter Sherry and son-in-law Patrick Kelly, who were charged in 2004 with over 100 counts of child abuse involving five adopted children at the Valley property they shared with the Longs.

"They refused to do that so that seriously harmed the ability of the state to both prosecute the Kelly's," prosecutor Rachel Gernat said.

All but three of the charges were dropped.

"I think there's evidence that it wasn't as bad as the children are now portraying it," defense attorney John Pharr said.

But Long himself admitted there was abuse.

"I looked after these kids, and I took care of them, and if I saw abuse going on, I stopped it," Long said.

But Long was not a protector, said Judge William Estelle, who saw Long as more of a neglector.

"Nobody got them counseling, and nobody got them medical attention," Estelle said. "We heard testimony about using alcohol on burn wounds as an antibiotic. It works to sterilize wounds, but it's got to be just screaming painful, but they didn't go to a doctor."

Long's assault conviction is only punishable by up to one year.

Estelle sentenced Long to serve three months, which is time he's already served. It was also enough to put a smile on Long's face as he left court.

"I'll make it. I don't hold any animosity against anyone," Long said. "I've pretty much overcome this world."

After nearly five years, the child abuse case dubbed one of the worst in state history is closed, with those accused all walking freely.

Long was put on probation for two years, and ordered to undergo parenting classes.

Long also said he had been abused growing up as a child in Indiana.

Contact Angela Blanchard at


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