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September 12, 2012
Angerer convicted of sexual battery and sodomy of girl
COLONIAL BEACH, Virginia (STPNS) -- Christopher Wiggins
Montross —A Westmoreland County Circuit Court jury, that started with 97 people who sat through hours of voir dire until 14 remained, listened closely to a sordid narrative lasting about six hours.
In late June of 2011 a nine-year-old girl did nothing more than try to change clothes in a bathroom, when her mother’s boyfriend of four years, Eric Christopher Angerer, 40, opened the door of the Colonial Beach house he shared with his mother, knelt in front of the little girl, pulled down her shorts and clutched her as he performed oral sex on the terrified child.
“He pulled down my shorts and began kissing my private parts,” the now 10-year-old little girl said in a gentle voice to a gob-smacked courtroom. “I told him to stop and he wouldn’t....he put his tongue inside my [vagina]... I felt weird”, she said.
The girl and her mother lived in King George at the time and would stay at Angerer’s house two or three times per week, she testified. She didn’t immediately tell her mother what happened; instead refusing to want to go stay at his house because she called him “a weirdo!”
Angerer was charged with aggravated sexual battery of a victim under 13-years-old and forcible sodomy of a minor. Friday was not his first time in the Westmoreland County Circuit Court being tried on the two sex crime charges. In fact, this was his third appearance on these charges. In March a mistrial was declared due to a hung jury and in June the pool of jurors wasn’t big enough - too many people knew about or had made up their minds on Angerer’s guilt, so the clerk issued 97 jury summonses for Friday and after a lengthy jury selection process, 14 jurors were chosen (12 plus two alternates).
Angerer’s mother, Connie Angerer, angrily confronted reporters during a short recess. “People like you [reporters] have poisoned my son’s reputation,” she said.
As she testified, the very poised but visibly anxious little girl at times spoke so quietly that Judge Joseph J. Ellis, who is kind, gentle and respectful of everybody in his courtroom, had to lean over to the girl and ask her to speak up.
The six men and eight women on the jury listened intently to every witness’ testimony: four prosecution witnesses (including the victim) and five defense witnesses (including Angerer’s young boy and Angerer himself). After a recess, attorneys gave closing arguments and the jury retreated to deliberate for less than an hour before handing down two resounding “guilty” verdicts while scowling at Angerer who stood with his two prominent and highly regarded attorneys, father and son, Jan and Nick Smith by his side.
As Juror 53, the female foreperson turned over the verdict forms, a hush fell over the room, with only the occasional sniffle from the brave young girl’s mother piercing through the silence as she sobbed, waiting to hear if her family’s nightmare was finally coming to a close. She sat in the second row, behind the prosecutor accompanied by Virginia State Police Senior Special Agent Marcy Clifton, the father of the victim, his girlfriend and Brenda Ward, Director of the Westmoreland County Victim and Witness Program.
Westmoreland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Julia H. Sichol said that she was pleased with the outcome of the case.
“Sexual abuse cases are so difficult because there is often little to no physical evidence due to delayed disclosures by the victims,” she said, “or the type of abuse, and obviously, the lack of witnesses to the offense.”
Sichol said that the fact that this particular case has been ongoing for more than a year was very difficult on the victim and her family.
“They have had to live without closure, worrying about what would happen. The verdict... was the closure that they needed,” Sichol explained.
After the jury returned the guilty verdicts, Judge Ellis explained to them what the sentencing guidelines were for each of the individual charges. For the “Aggravated Sexual Battery of a Victim under 13-years-old,” a felony, the judge instructed the jury that conviction carries a punishment “by confinement in a state correctional facility for a term of not less than one nor more than 20 years and by a fine of not more than $100,000.”
Ellis continued, “Forcible sodomy is a felony punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for life or for any term not less than five years.”
He explained to the jury that at minimum they must impost one year of prison and a fine up to $100,000 for the first conviction and at least five years confinement for the second. He then sent the jury back into the deliberation room to decide upon Angerer’s fate.
Ellis instructed the jury that per statute, they did not have to impose a fine at all since the wording is “a fine of not more than $100,000”, but does not indicate a minimum.
The jury departed and within twenty minutes returned with the sentence:
For the Aggravated Sexual Battery, Angerer was sentenced to one year in prison and no fine; as for the Forcible Sodomy conviction, the jury sentenced Angerer to five years of confinement.
The victim’s family sobbed while Connie Angerer defiantly looked at the jury and shook her head as she sat next to her grandson, who had testified on behalf of the defense during the trial. As they sat in one of the last rows of the gallery behind Angerer and his attorneys, the victim’s mother, who was seated on the opposite side of the room began crying and turning flushed in the face. Clifton also had tears in her eyes as she stroked the victim’s mother on the back in a show of support. The relief of this chapter of their lives having come to an end was evident; however, the father of the victim spent almost all day never averting his eyes from Angerer.
Although the jury gave Angerer the minimum sentence of six years with credit for time served and no fine, Sichol said that she was satisfied with the sentence; she said considering the defendant’s lack of a criminal record, the sentence wasn’t unreasonable.
“The victim and her family were satisfied with the outcome and that is my main concern,” Sichol said.
Child sex offender Eric Christopher Angerer will receive approximately 11 months credit and could be released in 61 months or sooner. Virginia abolished parole after July 1, 2005. Instead felons must serve at least 85% of their sentence - meaning Angerer could conceivably serve as little as 52 months.
As a registered sex offender for life, Angerer, will be required to provide a DNA sample and constantly update his whereabouts with the sex offender registry as well as have restrictions on where he can live in relation to children in addition to other sanctions that Judge Ellis deems necessary, Sichol said.
Angerer will be officially sentenced by Judge Ellis on Dec. 7, after a pre-sentence report and a psychosexual evaluation are conducted to assist Ellis in setting appropriate conditions to his sentence.
Angerer’s attorneys were contacted but did not return phone calls or e-mails by press time.
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