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Calling the sentencing guidelines “totally inadequate,” Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Krantz argued for a significantly higher prison sentence for a 21-year-old Roanoke man who sexually assaulted a 2 1/2-year-old girl in May 2009 while living in Bedford.
The Bedford prosecutor got his wish as Circuit Court Judge James Updike sentenced Robert Elkins Jr. to serve 10 years in prison. In all Elkins received a 40 year sentence, with 30 years suspended on the charges of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. Sentencing guidelines called for a 2 to 6-year prison term.
Krantz argued at a hearing Friday that Elkins had committed an “egregious” sexual offense, by assaulting the toddler inside a bathroom with the door closed.
Though charges against Elkins had been alleged, it wasn’t until the family of the girl found hand-written statements of Elkins about the offenses and his fantasies about the girl, that charges were filed. Krantz called the statements “beyond graphic.”
“They’re not only obscene, they’re down right evil,” he said.
Krantz noted during the sentencing hearing that, in his pre-sentence interviews, Elkins admitted to doing more to the child than he had when he entered pleas to the charges.
Elkins, according to Krantz, began looking at pornography in his early childhood and soon became focused on child pornography. He committed the crimes against the toddler when he was 19 years old.
The charges involved Elkins exposing himself to the girl, and having her expose herself to him. They also include fondling the girl and having her fondle him. Elkins later admitted to penetrating her with his finger.
“This was a 3-year-old girl, trapped in a bathroom, being held by this defendant...for his own gratification,” Krantz said. “This young girl can never really feel safe in her own home (again).”
Elkins, Krantz said, is “sexually fixated” on children, something that could eventually cause him to be held by authorities even after he’s served his sentence. Krantz said Virginia law now has a provision for some sexual offenders to be labeled as predators and potentially involuntarily committed through civil action to a psychiatric facility sanctioned by the Department of Corrections.
Defense attorney John Bradley argued that Elkins’s actions were fueled by emotional needs as a result of his chaotic upbringing and that the notes that were found referred to fantasies instead of actual acts he had committed. “We don’t punish people for their thoughts, we punish them for their actions,” he said during Friday’s hearing.
Bradley added that for two years from the time the offense was committed until he was arrested, Elkins had not been accused of any other sexual crimes. He said Elkins stopped when the girl said she didn’t like it. “This is not the action of a predator,” Bradley said. “This is one tragic incident.”
Bradley noted that his client has an IQ of only 80, making him borderline mentally challenged.
Krantz said after the hearing that the Internet has decreased dramatically the time it takes for those committing sexual offenses to move through the phases of thinking about their crimes to actually committing them. “Now, instead of years (to go through the phases), it takes months,” he said.
Elkins, Krantz said, showed in his close to 20 writings that he was fixated on sexually abusing someone at an age he could manipulate and control. He said the writings were, in essence, trophies that Elkins had to relive the event.
Elkins had entered guilty pleas to the charges in August.