Defense attorney Larry Charles could spend the rest of his life behind bars - for indecently assaulting six underage girls and raping three of them in places such as the Criminal Justice Center and in New Jersey motels over an eight-year period.
In sentencing him to 25 to 50 years in state prison - as requested by prosecutors - a judge yesterday told him:
"I agree with the D.A. I can't believe if you were out on the street that you will ever stop. My effort here is to stop you if I can," said Berks County Senior Judge Albert A. Stallone, a visiting judge assigned to the cases.
Upon hearing that, the mother of two of the victims, softly said, "Thank you, Jesus," as she sat in the courtroom gallery.
The younger of her daughters was 5 when Charles raped her.
Charles, 50, wearing glasses, a long-sleeved black shirt, faded black jeans and shiny black leather shoes, sat stoically, his hands resting on the defense table, while his sentences were read.
His downfall began when sheriff's deputies caught him naked on Jan. 15, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, in the third-floor lawyers' lounge of the Criminal Justice Center, with one of the girls, then 14. Coincidentally, yesterday's sentencing in Courtroom 304 occurred just steps away from the lounge.
In a Megan's Law hearing yesterday, psychiatrist Barbara Ziv testified that in her prison interview with Charles, she asked him what the longest period of time was that he could refrain from his impulse to touch children.
"Approximately four weeks," he reportedly said.
"He was aware in his 20s of his sexual deviancy," Ziv testified under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Devon Turner.
Prosecutor Jim Carpenter, later referencing Ziv's report, told the judge that Charles' wife "was not surprised by his arrest."
"She knew my history," Charles was quoted as saying.
Carpenter also pointed out that at age 20, Charles, while working as a social worker, had been arrested for exposing himself to an 11-year-old boy, with whom he had a client relationship. (Those charges were later dismissed.)
It also was disclosed that Charles had various affairs during his two marriages, including having sex with prostitutes.
The judge ruled Charles a sexually violent predator.
Charles began preying on the first of the six girls in 1999, Carpenter said. The girls ranged in age from 5 to 16 at the time of their assaults.
In September, he pleaded no contest to numerous sexual offenses against the six girls, including the rape of three of them.
Charles spoke yesterday, standing up and clasping his hands behind his back. "Your Honor, I am very remorseful for my behavior," he said in a loud, clear voice. "I want to apologize to the young ladies and their mothers."
Referring to his arrest on the MLK holiday, when he and the 14-year-old girl had gone into the lounge on a day when courts were closed and had the girl masturbate him to ejaculation, Charles said: "I think I unconsciously wanted help."
The judge asked Charles what caused him to sexually assault the girls.
He didn't have an answer. He said he hoped to find out "with proper treatment."
The mother of two of the victims - including the youngest girl, who was raped vaginally and anally by Charles on at least 10 occasions in his Center City and Southwest Philadelphia offices and in a Commerce Bank in Andorra when she was 5 and 6 - lashed out at Charles during her victim-impact statement.
"Larry knows I was molested as a child," testified the mother, who had a romantic relationship with him.
"That man was so smart to hide it!" she loudly proclaimed. "It hurts. He can't even look me in my face!"
At that, Charles, who had been looking straight ahead, turned briefly toward her. The woman stared him down for a few seconds before she continued.
Her older daughter, now 18, told the judge that because Charles had raped her, "Now, I get angry a lot. . . . I don't want to have children" and can't trust people.
Carpenter, speaking for the other girls, said they still experience fear and have trouble sleeping. All the girls except the youngest were in court yesterday.
The four other girls - three who are sisters and one who is their cousin - had met Charles through another family member.
Charles' maternal aunt, Gladys Charles, 74, asked the judge for a sentence of probation. She apologized to the victims' families and said she prays for them.
Defense attorney Angelo Cameron, getting emotional, argued: "Larry needs help. I know he's struggled hard. He's struggled so many years to be a lawyer."
He asked the judge to sentence Charles, who is his friend, to five to 10 years in prison.
"To throw the key away on Larry would be to kill him. He's already got death threats in and out" of prison, Cameron said.
Prosecutor Carpenter, in asking for 25 to 50 years, in the range of the guidelines, noted Charles' "uncontrollable sexual desire" and his victimization of the girls. *