Circuit Court Judge Benjamin F. Lewis accepted a plea agreement Monday between attorneys handling the case of Terry E. Headrick, a Cape Girardeau man who pleaded guilty to an amended felony charge of attempted child molestation.
Headrick, 43, initially charged with child molestation, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The judge's ruling provoked a strong reaction from the 13-year-old victim's family, who said they preferred harsher punishment.
After the hearing, however, they said they were satisfied with the sentence.
"We'd like to see more, but 10 years, that's good enough," said the victim's mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the victim's identity. "He didn't make it out here, he's not going to make in there."
In August, at his Cape Girardeau residence, Headrick subjected the victim to sexual contact by putting his hand inside her pants.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Angel Woodruff recommended Headrick serve 10 years not only based on the crime, but also because he's a prior offender in Cape Girardeau County. Headrick was charged with forgery in 1988 and stealing in 1991, Lewis said.
Although the victim's family wanted a harsher punishment, Woodruff said it was her understanding that they recognized the reason for negotiations between attorneys.
"We met somewhere in the middle," Woodruff said.
Before his ruling, Lewis addressed the court, stating that he is aware of the different factors that go into resolving a child sexual abuse case.
"These are some of the most difficult cases that come before the court for sentencing," he said. "I know there are much worse child sex abuse cases, so, the sentences need to be proportionate."
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