Child sex charges net 25 year sentence
An elderly Waynesville man will spend the next 25 years in prison after being found guilty of several sex charges involving a 12-year-old girl.
Gary Roger Thomson, 68, was charged with multiple felonies involving sexual activity with a child in June 2013 and was indicted on the charges the following month. The victim was his live-in girlfriend's daughter.
The victim told her teacher about the abuse on the last day of school in May 2013, which led school counselors to notify the Department of Social Services and law enforcement.
The now 13-year-old victim took the stand for several hours during the week-long trial. She had come to live with her mother and Thomson when she was about 9 years old. She told the jury that he had touched her inappropriately on May 28 and May 30 and told her to keep it a secret.
The day after the second incident, she told her friend at school during the first period class of the day.
"I told her that Gary touched me in the wrong place," the victim said on the stand.
She said her friend urged her to tell a teacher, which she did.
When questioned about why she had not told her mother, the girl said she thought she wouldn't believe her.
During pretrial motions, Thomson's attorney, Michael Fox, requested to suppress one of the state's key pieces of evidence: Thomson's confession to the crime.
That motion was denied and the jury watched two video recordings of law enforcement interviews with Thomson. During the first interview, he denied touching the victim. But during the second interview, he gave a detailed confession.
"His confession lined up completely with her [the victim's] disclosure. They were very consistent with one another," said Assistant District Attorney Rachael Groffsky, who prosecuted the case.
Another key piece of evidence introduced to the jury was Thomson's calendar, which the victim's mother turned over to police about a month after his arrest. On the date when he made the confession to police, Thomson had written on the calendar, "Had to tell the truth. Did not want to hurt or damage her by lying."
Thomson took the stand in his own defense, saying he was coerced by police to give an involuntary confession and that he gave a false confession in order to protect the children and their mother.
Thomson told the jury he had met the family at a homeless shelter in Murphy about seven years ago.
After about 40 minutes of deliberation last Tuesday, the jury returned a guilty verdict on every charge, including first degree sexual offense by an adult offender, two counts sexual activity by a substitute parent and two counts indecent liberties with a child.
The victim showed little emotion during the trial until she cried when the jury announced the verdict.
Judge William H. Coward sentenced him to the mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. When Thomson will be eligible for release around the age of 93, he will be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life and will be placed under satellite based monitoring.
Groffsky said the success of the case hinged on testimony from the victim and the strong evidence brought forth by Det. Scott Muse of the Waynesville Police Department.
"She is a very strong young woman," Groffsky said of the victim.
Muse was pleased with the outcome of the case as well.
"The jury saw the truth and I thank God for that," he said.