FARMINGTON -- A judge sentenced a Clearfield man to serve two consecutive 15-years-to-life terms in Utah State Prison, saying crimes against children are nearly as serious as murder.
The victim's mother said in 2nd District Court at the sentencing hearing Thursday that her daughter, who is now 12, lives in fear of Scott Kirby Patterson, 50.
"My daughter deserves to feel safe," she said. "We should not have to be afraid."
The girl, who was 10 at the time of the abuse, did not attend the sentencing hearing because she felt threatened, her mother said.
Six officers stood in the courtroom, with several near the mother.
Before sentencing Patterson to prison, Judge Thomas L. Kay said the Legislature determined that, "next to murder, these (sexual abuse crimes against children) are the most grave crimes," and that is why they have mandated sentences of 15 years to life in prison for aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
Patterson was convicted by a jury Feb. 2 of two counts of first-degree felony aggravated sex abuse of a child and two counts of class A misdemeanor lewdness involving a child.
After the jury conviction, Patterson jumped into the courtroom gallery, going after the girl.
He has since been charged with retaliation against a witness and assault by a prisoner, both third-degree felonies, in connection with the incident.
Patterson, his family and defense attorneys maintain he is innocent of the conviction and that he "snapped" when the system failed him.
In a courtroom packed with Patterson's family and friends, the mother of the girl said that, after the sex abuse charges were filed against Patterson, her family has felt threatened by Patterson.
She said she has found her daughter sleeping behind her bed and watched her curl into a ball on the floor of her truck because she is afraid Patterson would come after her.
"I've had to make special arrangements for her transportation to and from school, instead of letting her walk, because she is afraid," the woman said.
Patterson's attorney, Greg Law, said the woman works in the court system.
He said the woman is "vindictive" and manipulated her daughter into making up stories about Patterson, which brought the charges.
"Before God and these witnesses, she lied," Patterson said about the girl's testimony during the trial.
"My life is in jeopardy."
Law said Patterson has hired appellate attorneys.
Deputy Davis County Attorney Rick Westmoreland said, "We did a very clean trial. It was a calculated move on (Patterson's) attorneys not to put him on the stand. I have no idea what grounds they may have to appeal the case."
At the hearing, Westmoreland told the judge that Patterson has not taken responsibility for his actions and is "volatile."
He asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
Kay could have sentenced Patterson to six years to life or 10 years to life for each of the first-degree felonies, if he believed there were mitigating circumstances.
Kay said, "I cannot ignore what happened at the jury trial," reminding Patterson it was the jury that found him guilty, not innocent.
Westmoreland said the mother has taken "a beating" about the way she handled the case when her daughter first told her about the abuse.
After the hearing, Westmoreland said his office did tell the jury at the beginning of the trial that the girl lied about one of the lewdness incidents because "she thought it was worse than the sexual abuse."
He said the mother took her daughter to their bishop 11 months after the girl reported the first incident, instead of going to the police, upon learning there were other incidents.
"I think it is a culture thing here to go to the bishop first," Westmoreland said.
The bishop reported the incident to the Division of Child and Family Services, which reported it to the Clearfield Police Department.