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Massena judge sentences man to 9 months jail time for endangering conviction

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MASSENA - A 37-year-old Nicholville man who pleaded guilty to an endangering the welfare of a child count in a plea bargain agreement that satisfied a second charge alleging he had inappropriate sexual contact with that teenager has been sentenced to serve 270 days in the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility.

Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall also ordered Matthew J. Parks of 12 state Route 458, Nicholville, to pay a $205 surcharge. Defense attorney Verner Ingram told the court his client’s mother would have the surcharge paid by the end of October.

Parks admitted he had endangered the welfare of a child by having inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old at 7:43 a.m. Feb. 19.

Village police had charged Parks with two counts of forcible touching and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in late February following an investigation into a series of incidents involving two 14-year-old females in January and early February.

Parks was charged with having inappropriate sexual contact with one of the 14-year-olds and touching the other 14-year-old female’s buttocks when he thought she was sleeping.

He was reportedly involved in a relationship with one of the teen’s mothers when the incidents took place, and that woman’s daughter shared reports of the incidents that had taken place with her mother when her relationship with Parks ended.

Mr. Ingram acknowledged the pre-sentence investigation report conducted by the probation department recommended Parks be sentenced to jail time.

“That’s the rub as far as we are concerned. The probation department report indicates he is a low risk for recidivism. We realize these serious charges were resolved with a generous negotiate plea, but I would urge the court to consider the things said by people who have known Matt a lot longer than the probation officer,” Mr. Ingram.

The defense attorney was referring to letters submitted to the court on his client’s behalf by his employer at the Nicholville Telephone Company, who wrote Parks was a top-notch employee and even more importantly a loving and caring father; and a member of his church family, whose letter talked about his involvement with the church and his effort to be heavily involved in Christian men’s activities. Mr. Ingram asked the court to sentence Parks to straight probation.

St. Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Lloyd Grandy said he would leave sentencing to the court’s discretion. “What I see is a person who got a favorable disposition and does not have to register as a sex offender,” he pointed out.

Mr. Crandall agreed with Mr. Grandy’s assessment. “He escaped that. What you see isn’t what you get. This defendant covertly molested these children. It’s unfortunate this defendant is not facing a Sexual Offender Registry Law review,” he said.

Prior to his sentencing, Parks told the court, “I’m very sorry this happened,” he said.

Mr. Crandall said the pre-sentence report suggested Parks groomed the two young teens over a period of time leading up to the inappropriate contact.

“I read through this, and it tells me you premeditated this and that you victimized these little girls,” he said prior to handing down the jail sentence and signing an order of protection directing Parks to stay away from the two young women.

Parks, in a statement he provided police at the time of his arrest, acknowledged he had acted inappropriately.

“I had a moment of weakness ... I am very sorry for my actions and apologize to her family for what happened,” he said.

One of the teenagers told police Parks had started touching her shortly after he met her, starting out by rubbing her leg. She said the first incident took place after Parks convinced the two teenagers to play hide and seek.

“So we played with him and every time I was hiding in the closet he would hide with me. While we were in the closet, Matthew started rubbing my leg down by my shin in a comforting kind of way,” she told police.

She told police they played hide and seek again the next night, and Parks again rubbed her leg, this time winking at her and “smiling in a weird way.”

She said that contact escalated in the following days and weeks even as she attempted to limit contact with him.

“Matthew would come up behind me and put his arms around my waist and it felt weird to me. Matthew would be overly friendly to us ...,” the alleged victim said, noting his conduct became more inappropriate as the days went on.

She told police Parks had inappropriately touched her on a few separate occasions.

The other 14-year-old said her friend had told her early on that Parks was a creeper.

“I noticed he flirted a lot with her and would say a lot of inappropriate things. Matthew would only act like this when my mother was sleeping or gone to work,” that teenager said.

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