Defiant Linda sex offender gets 12-year sentence
Before leaving the courtroom on Thursday, convicted sex offender Leonard Earl Petty Jr. lashed out at his teenage victim and her family.
"I hope you guys are happy with the fact that you ruined my entire life," said Petty, of Linda.
Bailiffs immediately surrounded him and took him out of the courtroom.
The victim's family also got their shots in during his sentencing hearing in Yuba County Superior Court.
"I hope someone tortures you in prison the way you tortured my (relative)," Mandy Petty said during sentencing.
Other family members told Petty to "burn in hell."
During the sentencing, the judge and bailiffs repeatedly told the family members to only address the court.
Even his court-appointed attorney, Brian Davis, noted the obvious animosity within the family.
"Everyone in this family seems to threaten everyone else," Davis said.
Judge Stephen W. Berrier ordered Petty to serve a 12-year term in state prison and register as a sex-offender for continuously groping a young relative over her clothing for more than two years.
The girl was 11 when the abuse began, authorities said.
Petty, 31, has maintained his innocence throughout the court process and called the allegations false.
"You'll have my appeal within the week," Petty told the judge.
During a rambling, 30-minute speech Thursday, Petty postulated on possible motives for the victim to lie.
His off-the-cuff hypothesis included speculation the victim was angry because Petty's ex-wife was no longer available to give her rides to the store.
Petty was convicted in April on one of four felony child sex abuse charges. The victim endured groping of "sensitive areas" over her clothing from the age of 11 until some time after she turned 13, prosecutors said.
More serious charges of sexual penetration and intercourse with a girl under the age of 10 and lewd and lascivious acts with another victim were dismissed in March.
Berrier found Petty not guilty of lewd acts against a second family member, at least in part, because the judge questioned the alleged victim's credibility.
Petty was arrested last November and charged with abusing two young relatives for nearly 10 years.
Outside the courtroom, Davis stood by his client's assertions of innocence.
"I think the judge made the proper decision on the three counts of not guilty and I don't agree with the decision on the fourth count, but I understand it and, with that in mind, I think the judge was correct not ordering (the maximum sentence), and I wish he had imposed (the minimum) ...," Davis said.
Deputy Yuba County District Attorney Teresa Sydow argued for Petty to receive the maximum 16-year sentence.
Sydow said Petty would "very likely reoffend," and his sentencing report said Petty "clearly demonstrated he is a danger to the community."
"It's important to note these girls got up and testified, which shows so much courage, and it is to be commended," Sydow said.