Saying "what we sow, we reap," a Common Pleas Court judge sentenced Philadelphia lawyer Larry Charles to 25 to 50 years in prison yesterday for raping and sexually assaulting six girls over an eight-year period.
Charles, 50, was arrested Jan. 15 when a sheriff's deputy found him with a partially clad 14-year-old girl in a lawyers' lounge at the Criminal Justice Center, which was closed for Martin Luther King's Birthday. An investigation found that Charles had been sexually assaulting the six girls, ages 11 to 17, since 1999.
"Mr. Charles, for the last 10 months I've been trying to find something in your life that would mitigate the 16 offenses on these girls . . . [and] I couldn't find any," said Judge Albert Stallone, who was brought in from Berks County to hear the case.
Before being sentenced, Charles, who pleaded no contest to the charges in September, told the judge that he needed therapy to rehabilitate himself.
"I am looking forward to treatment. That's what I want, so that this won't happen again," Charles said. "With proper treatment and therapy, I will get the help I need."
Assistant District Attorney James Carpenter, who had urged the judge to sentence Charles to 25 to 50 years, told the judge, "Instead of using his intellect to help people, he used it to prey on these girls."
Five of the six girls were in court yesterday - three sisters and a cousin from one family and two sisters from another.
In May, five of the girls testified that they were sexually assaulted numerous times by Charles, who was well-known to their families. They said the lawyer would take them to his office and other locations in Philadelphia and New Jersey, including a bank safe-deposit room, and sexually assault them there. They testified that he would ply them with money and gifts of clothing and other items.
The oldest girl, who is now 18, testified yesterday that the assaults have left her traumatized.
"At first it really didn't affect me. Now I get angry a lot. Sometimes I think I don't want to have children because someone like Larry Charles could get them," she said.
The mother of three of the girls told the judge that the case has caused her mental anguish.
"I have nightmares. I thought I was smart enough to recognize what was happening to my children," the woman said as she fought back tears.
In advance of the sentencing, the judge heard from two psychological experts that Charles was a sexually violent predator under Megan's Law. This requires that he must register with authorities when he is released.
Defense attorney Angelo Cameron urged the judge to be lenient in sentencing.
"Larry Charles is not well," Cameron said, noting that one of assaults took place in a lounge on the same floor as the courtroom.
With tears welling in his eyes, Cameron said, "I'm upset that he threw his career away and that he assaulted these girls."
Noting Charles' age, Cameron said, "He needs treatment. He can still give back to the community."