A long-time businessman in Stockton, California, Lyle Burgess, pleaded no contest to a charge of statutory rape of a 5-year-old. His punishment: 90 days of house arrest and five years of information probation, KTXL-TV reported.
About The Sentence
To make matters even worse, the 79-year-old does not have to register as a sex offender.
"A 5-6-year-old little girl was molested. Normally the sentence is state prison and then when you're released, you have to register as a sex offender," family attorney Ken Meleyco said. "He's obviously very wealthy and it's just an example of how the wealthy people, time and time again, escape the penalty for what they did."
"It is just appalling that somebody commits an offense like this and you have protections like 290 (failure to register as a sex offender) and Jessica’s Law and someone has the propensity to harm children and now nobody is warned," Davenport told The Stockton Record.
According to Burgess' attorney, Gregory Davenport, the family is doing this with an agenda in mind.
"I believe the allegations are motivated by greed," Davenport told The Stockton Record. "They are using this instance to try to gain financially.”
About The Assault
The rape in question allegedly took place in 2016 when Burgess — a trusted family friend and someone who knew the dad for more than two decades — invited the family to his cabin in Calaveras County, The Sacramento Bee reported.
"They trusted this man, he was a family friend, and he took advantage of them," Meleyco told KMOV-TV.
Meleyco says the now 7-year-old is not doing very well. "She's showing all the symptoms of somebody who's been molested. She's in counseling, and she's gonna be in counseling all her life."
The Stockton Record details the parents' testimony:
“I’m incredibly disgusted by his behavior and continuously disgusted by his lies,” she said before describing his sentence as “getting off so easy” and not registering as a sex offender.
“I want other kids to be protected by possible future abuse by this man,” she said.
The victim’s father, who has known Burgess for more than two decades, said: “I don’t have too many prized possessions in this world other than my family. (My daughter) will remember this the rest of her life. She sleeps on the floor outside our room."
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Ron Northup told the parents that their testimony makes an impact but, because the please was negotiated, "courts are somewhat limited" in how they sentence a case.
The Calls For Investigation
Now, a petition has surfaced, urging investigators to look into why Burgess' sentence was "so lenient."
Lyle Burgess, a wealthy man who lives in Stockton, sexaully [sic] assaulted a five year old girl. He was sentenced by San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Ron Northup to either 90 days in an alternative-work program or in-home detention plus five years of informal probation! He doesn’t even have to register as a sex offender! House arrest and probation?! How does this happen?
This child deserves justice! She deserves to know that people care enough to make sure this man can never hurt her or any other child again! She will have to deal with this for the rest of her life, and her abuser is basically getting a slap on the wrist.
Please sign and share this petition! Put pressure on the people who can investigate why his sentence is so lenient. Maybe there is a way he can be re-sentenced. Thank you!
The petition currently has 148 signatures at the time of publishing.