Wednesday December 19, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- A Brattleboro man will spend at least seven years in prison and must register as a sex offender after admitting to sexually assaulting a child.

Britt McLain, 50, was sentenced Tuesday in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division. In a brief statement, McLain apologized to his victim, who was in the courtroom.

"Every moment of my life, even in my sleep, I feel terrible for what I did," he said.

McLain was charged in January after police said the victim had disclosed the assaults, which happened in 2007 and 2008. He pleaded guilty in September to two counts -- sexual assault of a victim less than 16 years old and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

Given the risks inherent in going to trial, the impact of a trial on a victim and other factors, the sentence "strikes the appropriate balance," said Deputy State’s Attorney David Gartenstein.

McLain’s victim calmly addressed the court before that sentence was imposed, saying the assaults made it difficult for her to trust anyone.

"It has really affected my life and how I react and how I move on. I have been terribly scarred by it," she said.

But she added that she has begun to feel better after telling authorities about the crimes.

"I was just done with trying to hide all that I was feeling inside," she said. "I felt like I was about to burst."

As a policy, the Reformer does not identify victims of sexual assault.

McLain’s initial plea agreement called for him to serve a minimum of seven years and a maximum of 20 years in prison. But it later was determined that a state rule could have mandated that he serve 70 percent of the maximum sentence -- or 14 years -- in prison before becoming eligible for probation.

He had the right to opt out of that deal and did so. That led to a new deal that was negotiated Tuesday: Judge John Wesley sentenced McLain to a 14- to 20-year prison sentence but with the minimum sentence "split," meaning he’ll be eligible for parole after seven years behind bars.

"The sentence winds up being essentially identical" to the original plea agreement, said Gartenstein.

After McLain is released from prison, he must register as a sex offender and continue to undergo treatment, and he will be subject to court monitoring.

Noting his client’s age, defense attorney Christopher Montgomery said McLain "will be 70 by the time he could hope that any supervision would end."

Wesley added that, if McLain violates any part of that agreement, he could wind up serving the remainder of his sentence in prison.

"It’s not just today that Mr. McLain is going to be held accountable," Wesley said. "It’s day-in and day-out for the next 20 years."

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.