Man who molested child in Grand Forks to spend 15 years behind bars
One of two men accused of molesting a toddler two years ago will spend 15 years in prison, a Grand Forks District Court judge ordered Monday. Cody Michael Atkins, 20, pleaded guilty in March to one count of gross sexual imposition, a Class A felo...
One of two men accused of molesting a toddler two years ago will spend 15 years in prison, a Grand Forks District Court judge ordered Monday.
Cody Michael Atkins, 20, pleaded guilty in March to one count of gross sexual imposition, a Class A felony, in Grand Forks District Court after confessing to molesting a 2-year-old girl whom his acquaintance was babysitting at a Grand Forks residence.
On Monday, before his sentence was read, Atkins apologized to the girl's family.
"I do want to say sorry to the family and to everyone I impacted," he said. "My actions weren't the best."
But then he doubled back, denying he had molested the girl and saying he had just made a suggestive comment.
"I shouldn't have admitted to something I didn't do. ... I didn't do anything to this little girl," he said.
But when asked whether Atkins wanted to withdraw his guilty plea, he said "no."
Grand Forks County Assistant State's Attorney Jason McCarthy, who prosecuted the case, urged the court to go ahead with sentencing, despite Atkins' apparent retraction of guilt. McCarthy argued Atkins had already accepted responsibility for his actions in March when he initially pleaded guilty to the crime.
McCarthy added Atkins' guilty confession was credible because his initial statements to police about what happened to the victim mirrored what his co-defendant Thomas Michael Pinkney told police happened.
In April, Pinkney agreed to plead guilty to one count of gross sexual imposition, a Class A felony. His sentencing is at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
A third person was named in the criminal complaint as having molested the girl, but has not been charged with a crime. The victim's relatives said there was not enough evidence to level charges against the third suspect.
District Judge Lolita Romanick did go forward with Atkins' sentencing.
"The court does not find your statements this morning credible," she said, referring to Atkins' claims of innocence.
Romanick reminded Atkins of the gravity of his crime, saying he had harmed a "defenseless little child" and "potentially destroyed her ability to have a relationship with a loving man."
Romanick said the victim's mother had lost custody of the girl partly because of the incident.
The victim's mother spoke before the court as well, saying the now 3-year-old girl is "terrified" of men, goes to therapy and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
District Judge Lolita Romanick sentenced Atkins to 20 years in prison-the maximum-with five years suspended, meaning he will serve 15 years. After he is released, he will be placed on supervised probation for 10 years. Atkins also must register as a sex offender and pay $1,025 in fines.