Man sentenced to 45 years for sexual assault of child
Original Article by Dan Eakin, McKinney Courier-Gazette on October 6, 2011
A 27-year-old Allen man will likely spend most of the rest of his life in prison, following a long-awaited verdict by a Collin County jury Thursday.
Patrick A. Bentley was sentenced by a jury of eight men and four women to 45 years without parole after being convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child under age six, and to 20 years on a charge of indecency with a child. The two sentences will run concurrently. Bentley was also fined $10,000 on each charge.
During the trial, which began Monday, prosecutors from the Collin County District Attorney’s Office told the jury that Bentley had sexual relations with a 4-year-old girl “on or about March 1, 2009” and possibly at other times.
The jury was shown two videotaped interviews with the alleged victim. The girl, who was almost 5 years old when the offenses were said to have taken place, and is now 7 years old. She took the stand Tuesday to testify against Bentley.
A total of eight witnesses took the stand for the prosecution, including the victim and an Allen police officer. The defense only had two witnesses. Bentley elected not to testify.
Andrew “Andy” Farkas, Bentley’s court-appointed attorney, tried to convince the jury during final arguments that there were “several inconsistencies” in the girl’s videotaped testimony and that she likely had “fantasized” about what she said had happened.
Farkas emphasized that he was not calling the girl a liar.
“Not telling the truth and believing it to be true is not lying,” Farkas said. He urged the jury to give serious thought before returning a sentence that could “destroy” his client’s life.
Shannon Miller, who prosecuted the case along with Crystal Levonius, referred to Bentley when she told the jurors, “This is not about him.” She indicated that the case was about justice being done for a 4-year-old girl who had been sexually assaulted.
Miller also said that children do not fantasize about bad things, but rather “about good things that make them happy.”
Under current law, Bentley would be eligible to be freed from prison when he is about 70 years old. Judge John R. Roach, Jr. of the 296th District Court, who presided at the trial, said Bentley would be given credit for the 725 days he had spent in the Collin County jail, awaiting trial.
Roach expressed gratitude to the jurors for the lengthy amount of time they spent hearing and deciding the outcome of the case.
The trial began with selection of the jurors Monday morning, and the jury began hearing witnesses Monday afternoon. The trial continued from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, resuming Wednesday morning.
After hearing final arguments between 12:55 p.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, the jury deliberated for more than three hours Wednesday afternoon and more than two hours Thursday morning, before deciding on Bentley’s guilt. They then deliberated for another hour and a half before announcing the sentences.
A portion of the deliberation time Wednesday afternoon was used to take a second look at the victim’s videotaped interviews, possibly to check and see if the defense attorney’s allegations of inconsistencies were correct.
At one point, the jurors sent a note requesting a printout of the girl’s testimony, in which she went into detail to describe in what way the aggravated sexual assault had taken place. The girl had also described in detail, in her own way, how the defendant had been guilty of indecency with a child.