A 66-year-old Harrison Twp. man described as a “father figure” was sentenced Wednesday to nine years in federal prison after being convicted of sex crimes against a then-14-year-old girl.
William H. Sparks, who was friends with the victim’s mother, admitted to having sexual contact with the girl in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky during a four-month span.
“You have no fault in this. I am responsible for sexually molesting you,” Sparks said in court during an apology to the victim he read before addressing U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice. “No matter your decision today, my shame and remorse will never go away.”
The victim and her mother told this news organization that Sparks’ apology meant very little.
“His words meant absolutely nothing to me because anybody trying to gain mercy from the court would say something very similar,” the victim said. “He does not care that he hurt me and that’s the bottom line. Everything he said in that letter was said for his own sake and not mine. Not a single tear fell from his eye.”
Rice ordered Sparks, who earned 440 days of jail-time credit, to serve 10 years of supervised release including 50 hours of community service during the first two years after his release.
Rice said Sparks’ actions were a betrayal of the girl’s and her mother’s trust.
“The crime is terrible,” Rice said. “This victim was vulnerable. … It doesn’t matter whether she was the aggressor or initiated the activity, the fact is this is a 14-year-old girl.”
Defense attorney Mark Wieczorek said the victim was very advanced for somebody her age and was an independent thinker and that Sparks got permission from the girl’s mother for out-of-town trips.
The attorney added that Sparks didn’t take the case to trial, which would have caused the victim to take the stand and relive the experiences.
The attorney said that “Mr. Sparks has taken full responsibility for his actions” and that “he has no excuse for his behavior.”
Assistant U.S. attorney Brent Tabacchi said Sparks wasn’t a legal guardian but acted like one for trips to Kentucky and Indiana. Tabacchi said Sparks also represented himself as a relative to a Dayton motel employee as to not arouse suspicion.
Sparks allegedly gave the girl two glasses of Sangria and directed her to perform a sex act on him after she went to a bedroom to watch cartoons, according to a complaint and affidavit.
“Any time an adult abuses a minor, the harm both potentially physical and emotionally is undeniable,” Tabacchi said. “What makes this all the more egregious is the nature of the relationship between Mr. Sparks and the minor victim. … He was a father figure.”
The victim’s mother told this news organization that no length of sentence would be sufficient for Starks.
“However I am well pleased with the sentenced Judge Rice issued,” she said. “Mr. Tabacchi worked very hard for my daughter.”