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Shaver to serve 5 years

A 68-year-old Dublin man who pled guilty to the aggravated sexual battery of a nine-year-old girl at an in-home daycare business in 2007 will have to serve five years of a 40-year sentence.
During a more than two-hour sentencing hearing Wednesday, Thomas Bliss Shaver called his actions a “very bad impulse” and pleaded with the court to place him on probation or allow him to serve time under in-home incarceration rather than send him to prison.
“I couldn’t make it” through a prison sentence, said Shaver, who will turn 69 later this month and detailed a list of medical conditions from which he suffers. “I don’t think I’d live through it.”
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Robert Turk told Shaver he is “well aware of the health and financial consequences” a prison term would entail. Nonetheless, he said that is no reason to “deviate downward” from state guidelines that recommended a mid-point sentence of four years, eight months.
Turk told Shaver the actions that landed him in court were not a “mistake.”
“It was a calculated incident and it was intentional,” Judge Turk, noting that it is time for Shaver to “pay your debt to society.”
Several times during his testimony Wednesday, Shaver referred to his actions as a “mistake.”
However, on cross-examination by Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor, he ultimately acknowledged it wasn’t a mistake, but rather, “a sin and a crime – a wrongful doing.”
According to evidence in the case, the victim would go to a daycare run by Shaver’s wife, Darlene, before and after school each day.
The young girl said she was asleep on a couch when she awakened to find Shaver had placed his genitals in her hand. She said she jerked her hand away and then Shaver put his hand down her pants.
Shaver admitted the initial assault, but denied putting his hands down the girl’s pants. He claimed he placed his hand on her stomach.
Shaver pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery for the hand incident, but he entered an Alford Plea on the other count involving her pants. An Alford Plea is not an admission of guilt, but is an acknowledgement that evidence is sufficient for a finding of guilt.
Speaking on behalf of the victim’s family, the girl’s grandfather presented a photograph of her to Judge Turk Wednesday. He called her a “gentle, shy, loving and compassionate” girl who “effects the people she meets.”
The grandfather said they were thrilled when they were able to get the girl into Darlene Shaver’s daycare, but they now feel “betrayed” by her and her husband.
“We look in (the victim’s) eyes every day and wonder what effect this will have” on her in future years, the grandfather said.
He said the girl is “terrified” of running across Shaver when they go shopping or out to eat. He added that they recently discovered the girl was having nightmares about Thomas Shaver shooting at her for telling what happened.
She also has a fear of gray-headed men, he said, adding that she “totally panics” when she is around one.
“In some ways, she’s been a prisoner and she shouldn’t have been,” he told Judge Turk.
The man called Shaver’s acts “selfish and perverted” and asked that Shaver be given the maximum sentence of 40 years so the victim will never have to worry about encountering him on the street.
“We truly hope he’s sorry, he’s getting the help he needs and that he’s made things right with God,” the grandfather stated. “But he needs to be punished and he needs to be punished severely. He still has to answer to the law.”
In response to defense attorney Everett Shockley’s contention that Shaver’s age and health should be figured into his sentence, the grandfather said, “he didn’t care she (victim) was nine years old, we ask that his age not be a factor to this court.”
He added that 68 years old is “old enough to know better.”
Shockley asked the grandfather if he would be so adamant about Shaver receiving a 40-year sentence if Shaver was his father.
The grandfather said he would ask for the same if it had been his father who molested the girl.
The Commonwealth presented the judge with eight victim impact statements and Shockley provided the court with about a dozen character letters from associates of Shaver.
Shaver’s step granddaughter, 22-year-old Amber Branscome Wendt, spoke on behalf of Shaver.
She said she used to stay with the Shavers on weekends when she was young and Shaver never did anything to her. She said she isn’t condoning his conduct, but “he’s a good person. All he has done is make a bad decision.”
She said Shaver knows he has done wrong and he will live the rest of his life as a prisoner in his own body due to the “regret he feels about what he did to that girl.”
Asked by Fleenor whether she would be as forgiving if it had been her child Shaver molested, Wendt said she probably wouldn’t be saying the same things “as strongly.”
Shaver told the court he is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had “a drop to drink” since 1985. He said his drinking almost killed him and left him with cirrhosis of the liver.
Besides concerns over being able to get appropriate treatment in prison, Shaver said he is concerned about his wife, who will lose her only sources of income (his pension and social security) if he is incarcerated.
Darlene Shaver said she lost her earning capacity when she voluntarily closed the daycare upon learning of this incident.
Even though she lost her business, the children she “loves” and her reputation as a result of Shaver’s actions, she said she is sticking by her husband because she loves him and she made a vow to be with him “for better or for worse” and “I truly don’t think it could get any worse than this.”
While testifying, Shaver repeatedly thanked and praised the Lord for his wife, family and members of the congregation at the Church of God on Bob White Boulevard for standing by him. He recalled how he used to drive a bus for the church, picking up children to bring to church.
He said he considers himself to be a “devout individual,” and said God has forgiven him for his drinking and the “mistake” he made with the young girl.
“I have prayed over this situation of wrong-doing and sin,” Shaver told the court. “He has forgiven me and hopefully one day the (victim’s) family will find it in their hearts to forgive me for what I’ve done against this child and any others out there.
“I know I’ve done wrong. I’ve been imprisoned by my mistakes,” he added. “I don’t want the family to go on with this hatred of me. It’s not good in the face of the Lord. I’ve admitted my sin and my precious wife has been by my side. She loved those children. I made the mistake, not my wife. They shouldn’t down my wife for this.”
In response to Shaver’s comments, Fleenor asked if Shaver has molested other children.
Shaver said he hasn’t. He said he was merely referring to any other wrongs he may have committed in his life. “I didn’t mean it in terms of children,” he added.
Shaver said he loves the children that stayed at his wife’s daycare and he misses them every day when the bus drives by and doesn’t stop to let children off at their house.
However, he denied having any sexual urges towards children and insisted other children would not be in danger if he is “out here on the streets.”
He said he’s aware he can’t go around children, but he can’t help who might sit on a pew near him in church once he is seated.
Shaver said he has “no explanation for (his actions) at all.
“If I knew why it would have never happened,” he told Fleenor.
Asked whether he wasn’t concerned several other children who were sleeping in the room would awaken while he committed the act, Shaver said, “It probably took a minute or less than a minute at most.” He said he didn’t think they would awaken and catch him.
He also said he didn’t know whether the victim would tell on him “and then I hoped not.”
According to evidence in the case, the girl returned to the home for several months before telling her grandmother about the incident.
Darlene Shaver said she doesn’t think her husband is “predatory.” She said she ran a Christian daycare for children ages three to five for 15 years and nothing like this ever happened before.
She said the only reason she left her husband to watch the children that day was because she was meeting with her sister about deeds for cemetery plots. Her mother had recently died, she noted.
The woman, who was unaware of the incident until Shaver was arrested, said she had no idea the child was in fear returning to the house each day. She said she has gone back through pictures and videos and all she can see is a happy child.
Darlene Shaver said she in no way has ill feelings against the child for telling what happened. “She did the right thing. I’m just sorry I couldn’t protect her, but I didn’t know.”
Fleenor called Shaver’s actions as “pretty brazen” considering the fact other children were in the room.
He said the fact Shaver can’t explain his actions is a sign “there’s nothing to keep it from happening again” except putting him in prison where it can’t happen again.
Fleenor asked for at least a 10-year sentence to make sure the victim is an adult if he ever gets out of prison.
Shockley said his client will suffer enough living with his actions day to day. Plus, he said, the man’s picture will be on the sexual offender registry on the internet for everyone to see.
He said a 10-year sentence, or any period of incarceration, would be a death sentence for Shaver.
Shockley said most sexual offenses involve more severe acts than Shaver’s and that they usually last over a period of time rather than being just once.
“He made his one mistake and it was a big one,” Shockley said. However, he said the extent of the act could have been “more invasive or offensive.”
The attorney pointed out that Darlene Shaver gave Shaver a second chance when no one would have faulted her for leaving him, so “we’re asking the court to do the same.”
“Although it was self-inflicted, there’s no doubt he suffers daily – perhaps a much as the victim,” the defense attorney added.
He contended punishing Shaver with a prison sentence would be punishing Shaver’s wife for what he did by taking away her means of support.
“We’re not here to kill this man. We’re here to do justice and see that he’s punished,” Shockley added. He said the man has no criminal history, so he “deserves credit for something.”
Shockley asked the court to give Shaver a suspended sentence and “the strictest of terms, then if he does something wrong have a “load of bricks to drop on him.”
However, Fleenor said crime has consequences “not just for those who commit the crime.” He said the court wouldn’t be punishing Darlene Shaver – the sentence would just be a “side effect” of her husband’s actions.
“This sentencing today is for that other child – to prevent that other child from ever existing,” Fleenor said. “To prevent that child from having to go through the horrors this one has.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Shaver was fined $10,000. He will be placed on 15 years active probation upon release from prison and has been banned from unsupervised contact with female children.
He also cannot have contact with the victim or her family members.
Judge Turk said he didn’t impose the sentence requested by the victim’s family because it is the court’s duty to remove emotion from the sentencing decision.

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Shaver to serve 5 years

A 68-year-old Dublin man who pled guilty to the aggravated sexual battery of a nine-year-old girl at an in-home daycare business in 2007 will have to serve five years of a 40-year sentence.
During a more than two-hour sentencing hearing Wednesday, Thomas Bliss Shaver called his actions a “very bad impulse” and pleaded with the court to place him on probation or allow him to serve time under in-home incarceration rather than send him to prison.
“I couldn’t make it” through a prison sentence, said Shaver, who will turn 69 later this month and detailed a list of medical conditions from which he suffers. “I don’t think I’d live through it.”
Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Robert Turk told Shaver he is “well aware of the health and financial consequences” a prison term would entail. Nonetheless, he said that is no reason to “deviate downward” from state guidelines that recommended a mid-point sentence of four years, eight months.
Turk told Shaver the actions that landed him in court were not a “mistake.”
“It was a calculated incident and it was intentional,” Judge Turk, noting that it is time for Shaver to “pay your debt to society.”
Several times during his testimony Wednesday, Shaver referred to his actions as a “mistake.”
However, on cross-examination by Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor, he ultimately acknowledged it wasn’t a mistake, but rather, “a sin and a crime – a wrongful doing.”
According to evidence in the case, the victim would go to a daycare run by Shaver’s wife, Darlene, before and after school each day.
The young girl said she was asleep on a couch when she awakened to find Shaver had placed his genitals in her hand. She said she jerked her hand away and then Shaver put his hand down her pants.
Shaver admitted the initial assault, but denied putting his hands down the girl’s pants. He claimed he placed his hand on her stomach.
Shaver pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery for the hand incident, but he entered an Alford Plea on the other count involving her pants. An Alford Plea is not an admission of guilt, but is an acknowledgement that evidence is sufficient for a finding of guilt.
Speaking on behalf of the victim’s family, the girl’s grandfather presented a photograph of her to Judge Turk Wednesday. He called her a “gentle, shy, loving and compassionate” girl who “effects the people she meets.”
The grandfather said they were thrilled when they were able to get the girl into Darlene Shaver’s daycare, but they now feel “betrayed” by her and her husband.
“We look in (the victim’s) eyes every day and wonder what effect this will have” on her in future years, the grandfather said.
He said the girl is “terrified” of running across Shaver when they go shopping or out to eat. He added that they recently discovered the girl was having nightmares about Thomas Shaver shooting at her for telling what happened.
She also has a fear of gray-headed men, he said, adding that she “totally panics” when she is around one.
“In some ways, she’s been a prisoner and she shouldn’t have been,” he told Judge Turk.
The man called Shaver’s acts “selfish and perverted” and asked that Shaver be given the maximum sentence of 40 years so the victim will never have to worry about encountering him on the street.
“We truly hope he’s sorry, he’s getting the help he needs and that he’s made things right with God,” the grandfather stated. “But he needs to be punished and he needs to be punished severely. He still has to answer to the law.”
In response to defense attorney Everett Shockley’s contention that Shaver’s age and health should be figured into his sentence, the grandfather said, “he didn’t care she (victim) was nine years old, we ask that his age not be a factor to this court.”
He added that 68 years old is “old enough to know better.”
Shockley asked the grandfather if he would be so adamant about Shaver receiving a 40-year sentence if Shaver was his father.
The grandfather said he would ask for the same if it had been his father who molested the girl.
The Commonwealth presented the judge with eight victim impact statements and Shockley provided the court with about a dozen character letters from associates of Shaver.
Shaver’s step granddaughter, 22-year-old Amber Branscome Wendt, spoke on behalf of Shaver.
She said she used to stay with the Shavers on weekends when she was young and Shaver never did anything to her. She said she isn’t condoning his conduct, but “he’s a good person. All he has done is make a bad decision.”
She said Shaver knows he has done wrong and he will live the rest of his life as a prisoner in his own body due to the “regret he feels about what he did to that girl.”
Asked by Fleenor whether she would be as forgiving if it had been her child Shaver molested, Wendt said she probably wouldn’t be saying the same things “as strongly.”
Shaver told the court he is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had “a drop to drink” since 1985. He said his drinking almost killed him and left him with cirrhosis of the liver.
Besides concerns over being able to get appropriate treatment in prison, Shaver said he is concerned about his wife, who will lose her only sources of income (his pension and social security) if he is incarcerated.
Darlene Shaver said she lost her earning capacity when she voluntarily closed the daycare upon learning of this incident.
Even though she lost her business, the children she “loves” and her reputation as a result of Shaver’s actions, she said she is sticking by her husband because she loves him and she made a vow to be with him “for better or for worse” and “I truly don’t think it could get any worse than this.”
While testifying, Shaver repeatedly thanked and praised the Lord for his wife, family and members of the congregation at the Church of God on Bob White Boulevard for standing by him. He recalled how he used to drive a bus for the church, picking up children to bring to church.
He said he considers himself to be a “devout individual,” and said God has forgiven him for his drinking and the “mistake” he made with the young girl.
“I have prayed over this situation of wrong-doing and sin,” Shaver told the court. “He has forgiven me and hopefully one day the (victim’s) family will find it in their hearts to forgive me for what I’ve done against this child and any others out there.
“I know I’ve done wrong. I’ve been imprisoned by my mistakes,” he added. “I don’t want the family to go on with this hatred of me. It’s not good in the face of the Lord. I’ve admitted my sin and my precious wife has been by my side. She loved those children. I made the mistake, not my wife. They shouldn’t down my wife for this.”
In response to Shaver’s comments, Fleenor asked if Shaver has molested other children.
Shaver said he hasn’t. He said he was merely referring to any other wrongs he may have committed in his life. “I didn’t mean it in terms of children,” he added.
Shaver said he loves the children that stayed at his wife’s daycare and he misses them every day when the bus drives by and doesn’t stop to let children off at their house.
However, he denied having any sexual urges towards children and insisted other children would not be in danger if he is “out here on the streets.”
He said he’s aware he can’t go around children, but he can’t help who might sit on a pew near him in church once he is seated.
Shaver said he has “no explanation for (his actions) at all.
“If I knew why it would have never happened,” he told Fleenor.
Asked whether he wasn’t concerned several other children who were sleeping in the room would awaken while he committed the act, Shaver said, “It probably took a minute or less than a minute at most.” He said he didn’t think they would awaken and catch him.
He also said he didn’t know whether the victim would tell on him “and then I hoped not.”
According to evidence in the case, the girl returned to the home for several months before telling her grandmother about the incident.
Darlene Shaver said she doesn’t think her husband is “predatory.” She said she ran a Christian daycare for children ages three to five for 15 years and nothing like this ever happened before.
She said the only reason she left her husband to watch the children that day was because she was meeting with her sister about deeds for cemetery plots. Her mother had recently died, she noted.
The woman, who was unaware of the incident until Shaver was arrested, said she had no idea the child was in fear returning to the house each day. She said she has gone back through pictures and videos and all she can see is a happy child.
Darlene Shaver said she in no way has ill feelings against the child for telling what happened. “She did the right thing. I’m just sorry I couldn’t protect her, but I didn’t know.”
Fleenor called Shaver’s actions as “pretty brazen” considering the fact other children were in the room.
He said the fact Shaver can’t explain his actions is a sign “there’s nothing to keep it from happening again” except putting him in prison where it can’t happen again.
Fleenor asked for at least a 10-year sentence to make sure the victim is an adult if he ever gets out of prison.
Shockley said his client will suffer enough living with his actions day to day. Plus, he said, the man’s picture will be on the sexual offender registry on the internet for everyone to see.
He said a 10-year sentence, or any period of incarceration, would be a death sentence for Shaver.
Shockley said most sexual offenses involve more severe acts than Shaver’s and that they usually last over a period of time rather than being just once.
“He made his one mistake and it was a big one,” Shockley said. However, he said the extent of the act could have been “more invasive or offensive.”
The attorney pointed out that Darlene Shaver gave Shaver a second chance when no one would have faulted her for leaving him, so “we’re asking the court to do the same.”
“Although it was self-inflicted, there’s no doubt he suffers daily – perhaps a much as the victim,” the defense attorney added.
He contended punishing Shaver with a prison sentence would be punishing Shaver’s wife for what he did by taking away her means of support.
“We’re not here to kill this man. We’re here to do justice and see that he’s punished,” Shockley added. He said the man has no criminal history, so he “deserves credit for something.”
Shockley asked the court to give Shaver a suspended sentence and “the strictest of terms, then if he does something wrong have a “load of bricks to drop on him.”
However, Fleenor said crime has consequences “not just for those who commit the crime.” He said the court wouldn’t be punishing Darlene Shaver – the sentence would just be a “side effect” of her husband’s actions.
“This sentencing today is for that other child – to prevent that other child from ever existing,” Fleenor said. “To prevent that child from having to go through the horrors this one has.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Shaver was fined $10,000. He will be placed on 15 years active probation upon release from prison and has been banned from unsupervised contact with female children.
He also cannot have contact with the victim or her family members.
Judge Turk said he didn’t impose the sentence requested by the victim’s family because it is the court’s duty to remove emotion from the sentencing decision.

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