R.I. man sentenced on sex crime charges

-A A +A
By Tom Wilmoth

The father of a 13-year-old girl who disappeared for a day in February 2009 with a Rhode Island man, testified of the horror the family faced of not knowing where their daughter was for that 24-hour period. And, he said, the ramifications of that event have continued to be felt by their daughter and the family.

    “You took advantage of a child when you did what you did,” he told 23-year-old Andrew Fitzgerald Holloway, during the Warwick, R.I. man’s sentencing Friday. “I didn’t know if I was ever going to see her again. I cried more than I did in my entire lifetime.”
    Holloway, who had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful carnal knowledge and two counts of computer solicitation of a female under the age of 15 years old for the purpose of soliciting carnal knowledge, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, suspended after serving 10 years.     Assistant Public Defender Kelli Boyer called several of Holloway’s family members during the sentencing hearing to present the problems her client had faced as a child.
    “He’s spent his entire life, essentially being the punch line of a joke,” Boyer said of Holloway, adding that he was not functioning at an “age-appropriate level” when he met the girl.
    On Feb. 3, 2009, the victim, then 13, was reported missing.   The search started when the Sheriff’s  Office  got a call from a man living on Evington Road who reported seeing a young female and a young male acting suspiciously. He reported that they were walking in the direction of Campbell County and, every time they saw a car coming, they would hide in the woods. Deputies from Bedford  and Campbell counties responded.
    Because of that, deputies were already in the area when the girl’s father called the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office and reported that his daughter was missing from their residence located on Steeplechase Drive. When she left home, she had been riding her bicycle and the bike was found on Bethel Church Road, not far from its intersection with Steeplechase.
    State Police joined the deputies in the search. The following evening, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from a home on Bethel Church Road informing them that a girl came to the house and asked to use the phone. There was a male with her and the homeowner thought she resembled the missing girl.
    There were a number of deputies already in the area and they got to the home quickly.  The girl was taken back to her home after a trip to the hospital to be checked.
    Holloway, who was 21 years old at the time of his arrest, was found with the victim and was charged. Blue Ridge Thunder determined that the girl and Holloway had been communicating over the Internet for about seven months and first met playing an X-Box online game called “Lost Planet.”  Holloway flew down from Rhode Island to meet her.
    The two were originally thought to be going to Canada but, after deciding that Canada was too cold, planned to go to Arizona.
    Boyer said that her client’s actions, and lack of planning, showed his level of responsibility at the time he committed the crimes. Though she said she understands the horror the family must have felt, and the damage that was done by her client’s crimes, she said it was important to understand that this was not a predator trying to take advantage of a young girl. Boyer argued that Holloway was just glad to find someone that was nice to him and “didn’t stop to consider the consequences” of what he was doing.
    During the hearing Friday, Boyer called Holloway’s adopted mother, Brenda Holloway, who testified that her son faced a tough childhood. She testified that her son had been removed from his birth mother after facing abuse and neglect from her for the first three years of his life.
    That, Brenda Holloway testified, led him to become developmentally behind other children and he ended up going through school as a special education student. She said her son wore a diaper through elementary school. “He could not handle being around other children,” she said.
    Brenda Holloway, who was married to another woman when she adopted Andrew, testified that relationship also caused hardship for her son, stating that her partner didn’t want anything to do with him.
    She and her son moved from California to Connecticut in 2007 and her son tried several different job opportunities including the military and carpentry. He eventually ended up at a technical school in Rhode Island, but could not handle living on his own. “He is unprepared to be alone in the world,” Brenda Holloway stated.
    “I think his happiest times are when he’s asleep,” she added. “He’s desperate for friendship. He’ll look for it wherever he can get it.”
    Arguments during Friday’s hearing also centered on the mandatory time Holloway would have to serve, according to the state code. Nance argued that Holloway should have to serve 15 years, while Boyer believed her client should only serve five years. Nance said Holloway had passed two competency evaluations and showed his criminal intent by telling the girl that he was only 16 years old. He said Holloway exposed himself to the girl over a Web cam and had the girl do the same. “This may not have been the most well planned out crime in this county, but Mr. Holloway accomplished quite a bit during that time,” he said.
    Judge James Updike ruled that Holloway did face both a 5- and 10-year mandatory sentence on his charges, but ruled those could be served concurrently, rather than consecutively. That meant Holloway had to be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison.
    After being released, Holloway will have five years of supervised probation. He is also barred from having any contact with the victim as well as any unsupervised contact with minors. He is not to use a computer, unless approved by a probation officer, and will have to register as a sex offender.