DALLAS -- A Sheridan-area resident convicted of two counts of first-degree sex abuse of two young girls will spend 10 years in prison.
Polk County Circuit Court Judge Fred Avera sentenced Rickey Lee Pearce, 49, on the crimes Thursday, Aug. 26.
Polk County Sheriff's deputies arrested Pearce in October 2009 after the mother of the two girls reported the abuse to police. According to court records, the girls, who were 7 and 10 at the time, told police Pearce had touched them inappropriately while baby-sitting them in the summer of 2009.
Pearce opted for a trial with no jury, meaning a judge would hear evidence and determine guilt.
Pearce was found guilty on both counts in the two-day trial that ended last month.
The girls' mother addressed the court at Pearce's sentencing hearing last week, describing Pearce as a trusted family friend before the abuse occurred.
"I trusted Rick," she read from a statement.
She said she had known Pearce for about 10 years. She said he seemed to care about her daughters and accompanied the family on activities.
"When I hear about how much fun they had, it hurts to know they had been betrayed," she said.
Pearce said little at the hearing, but his lawyer, Sarah Baldwin, noted that he was approaching 50 years of age and had no criminal record before this conviction.
Avera said he was bound to impose the Measure 11-mandated sentence of six and a quarter years on each count, but could determine whether to have Pearce serve both sentences at the same time.
"The only question is whether ... they will run consecutively or concurrently," Avera said. "I believe I must take into account that you are almost 50 years old and have never in trouble."
Avera then said that, on the other hand, Pearce was a trusted friend of the victims' family and committed the crimes in a time of crisis for the family.
"You took advantage of that situation," he said.
Avera decided to allow Pearce to serve only 30 months of the sentence concurrently, bringing the total amount of time he will serve in prison to 10 years.