Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from a previous version.
FARMINGTON — A 19-year-old Layton man was sentenced to prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to molesting multiple children over several years.
In an emotional hearing in Farmington’s 2nd District Court, Judge Michael Allphin got personal with the victims’ families before ultimately sentencing Alexander Clifton Winward to at least a decade in a Utah prison.
Winward — who was arrested in September 2017 — pleaded guilty on May 14 to four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, all first-degree felonies.
According to charging documents, Winward “engaged in inappropriate sexual contact” on multiple occasions with boys who were all under the age of 7.
During Winward’s sentencing, the mothers of four different children molested by Winward read victim impact statements and detailed the level of psychological damage he caused to their children.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about what Alex has done,” one woman said.
One mother said her family moved out of their neighborhood in an effort to escape the emotional damage they have been through.
All four women asked Allphin to give Winward a life sentence or the maximum sentence possible.
“Please let my son live his life without fear Alex will come back and hurt him,” one woman said to the judge.
Winward was originally charged with eight counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, but four charges were dropped as part of a plea deal. The deal was made possible when Winward gave police the names of nine victims against his attorney’s request. A handful of the parents voiced their disappointment that Winward was not convicted on charges for each victim.
After one woman was finished reading her statement, Allphin asked if her boys — who were both sexually abused by Winward — were in therapy. She replied no.
Allphin later voiced his concern with not having all of the abused children in counseling, along with other issues he observed during the parents’ testimonies.
Winward said during a brief statement that what he did is terrible and that he hopes the victims’ families can learn to forgive him.
“I’d like to apologize to the victims and to my own family,” he said.
After the many statements and testimonies, Allphin shared a very personal story he and his family had experienced.
Allphin said that members of his family were molested in years past and that he and his family “chose to forgive” the man responsible. He added that the man convicted of sexually abusing his family members now lives a normal life with a wife and children of his own.
“You are going to have to learn how to forgive,” Allphin said to the parents.
Allphin went on to say he believed Tuesday’s hearing was more about the parents rather than the victims, and the parents should hate the crime, not the person. Allphin said the parents can curse him all they want but told them not to transfer any hate they have toward him or Winward to their own children. They’ve been through enough, he said.
While holding a pre-sentence report and a psychosexual evaluation, Allphin said that investigators and analysts found that Winward isn’t “totally gone” and has good potential for rehabilitation while in prison.
“I’ve done this for 29 years. I’ve seen people come back and contribute to their communities,” Allphin said. “I hope Alex can be that kind of person.”
Before issuing Winward’s sentence, Allphin continued to be candid with the court.
“I’ve been torn over this,” he said. “I’ve lost sleep over this.”
Allphin told the court he doesn’t believe that a 15-years-to-life sentence is appropriate, and there’s good potential for Winward’s rehabilitation.
Allphin gave Winward an indeterminate sentence of 10 years to life for each of the four charges but ordered the counts to run concurrently. Winward was given credit for the 310 days already served in Davis County Jail.
Before he was led away by bailiffs, Winward was reminded by the judge the real amount of time he’s incarcerated will be determined by his own maturity and growth while in prison.
It was unclear as of Tuesday when Winward will be transferred to a state prison to begin his sentence.