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Man's Apology For Sexually Assaulting Young Girl Doesn't Sway Judge



VERNON — — Minutes before he was sentenced to what could be the rest of his life behind bars, Craig Niles apologized to the girl he began sexually abusing when she was 10 years old.

"I don't know how best to say how truly and deeply I am sorry for the harm I've done to the victim," Niles, 61, said Friday at Superior Court.

The girl, now 13, watched from the court gallery as he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Judge Terence A. Sullivan also ordered that he serve 15 years of special parole and register as a sex offender.

Niles pleaded guilty in January to impairing the morals of a child, promoting a minor in an obscene performance, employing a minor in an obscene performance, possession of child pornography and four counts of first-degree sexual assault. The victim, who had been placed in Niles' Stafford home by a foster care agency, told investigators he used a webcam to stream a video of him abusing her to others over the Internet.

"It's clear to me that you are and will always be a danger to children," Sullivan said before sentencing Niles.

State police and FBI agents raided Niles' West Stafford Road home in 2008, uncovering more than 50 videos of child pornography and more than 300 photographs of the victim, many of which were pornographic. Police began investigating after an officer in Suffolk County, N.Y., chatted with him online about child pornography.

The undercover officer pretended to be interested in sex with children, according to court documents, and he and Niles carried on an explicit conversation. Niles' screen name was "KidsR4Sex."

The abuse began when the girl was placed in Niles' care. He told authorities he had long been attracted to children and started collecting child pornography in 1994, after a car accident left him with a spinal cord injury. Unable to work, he spent a lot of time online gleaning images of boys and girls.

Niles, who also was caring for two foster boys, claimed he told the state Department of Children and Families to place only young boys in his home because he feared that he couldn't control himself with young girls, according to court papers.

He was not licensed by DCF but was approved as a foster parent by Dare Family Services, based in Somerville, Mass. The agency has an office in East Hartford.

2010 Apr 16