Second suspect gets 15 years in Grand Forks child molestation case
A Grand Forks District Judge handed down a 15-year prison term Monday to the second man convicted of molesting a toddler in Grand Forks. Thomas Michael Pinkney, who turns 23 today, pleaded guilty to one count of gross sexual imposition, a Class A...
A Grand Forks District Judge handed down a 15-year prison term Monday to the second man convicted of molesting a toddler in Grand Forks.
Thomas Michael Pinkney, who turns 23 today, pleaded guilty to one count of gross sexual imposition, a Class A felony, after he and his co-defendant Cody Michael Atkins, 20, sexually abused a 2-year-old girl, whom their friend was babysitting, in September 2013.
During Monday's district court hearing, the victim's mother described the trauma her daughter has suffered since the incident. She said the now 3-year-old girl has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, attends counseling and is "deadly afraid" of men and strangers.
"She has to be stronger than other children just to survive," she said through tears.
Pinkney stood before the court to apologize to the victim and her family.
"I feel sorry for all the lives I changed. Not a day goes by that I don't regret what I did," he said, as his family members wept in the pew directly behind him.
Attorney Ted Sandberg, who represented Pinkney, said Pinkney was pressured into molesting the girl, but added that was no excuse for his actions.
"The appropriate response is ... he should have intervened," Sandberg said.
Judge Lolita Romanick echoed Sandberg before passing down Pinkney's sentence.
"You're an adult and it's time you learned peers cannot make your decisions for yourself," she said.
She sentenced Pinkney to 20 years in prison with five years suspended and 10 years of supervised probation, the same sentence handed down two weeks ago to his co-defendant, Atkins.
"There's been a real tragedy worked on this little 2-year-old girl and imprisonment is nothing compared to that," Romanick said. "Who knows if she will recover or if she will ever trust men again."
Pinkney will have to register as a sex offender for at least 15 years, and possibly for the rest of his life.
He was also ordered to pay $1,775 in fees.
A third suspect was named in court documents as having molested the girl, but no charges were filed against that suspect.
Grand Forks County Assistant State's Attorney Jason McCarthy said the case is still under investigation.
Penny Johnson, the Grand Forks Police records supervisor, said in an email that investigative material regarding the third suspect had been given to the Grand Forks County State's Attorney's Office. She said the police department has not received any paperwork saying whether the state would pursue charges against that suspect.