A Waynesboro man accused of molesting four young girls will avoid the possibility of four jury trials and multiple life sentences. But John W. Clark II, 67, may never again be a free man, after entering guilty pleas Tuesday.
Clark's case had the potential of going to four separate jury trials - one for each victim - beginning next Monday. But instead, Clark pleaded guilty to 6 felony sex charges.
He told the Waynesboro circuit judge, "I just wanted to get it over with." Signing his name to a plea agreement, Clark admits to sexually assaulting four different girls over a nearly 20-year period.
Clark pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible sodomy, indecent liberties and aggravated sexual battery . He will serve 15 years, a sentence that will keep him in prison until he's in his early 80s.
"The victims were on board with the resolution of the case in general, and with the sentences we put in the plea agreement," said Waynesboro Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Ajemian.
Clark's court appearance was to be a hearing that decided whether he was mentally competent to stand trial. The defense says its own evaluators found Clark suffered from "crippling depression" and even schizophrenia. But in a court-ordered psych exam, Ajemian said, "Doctor didn't find that. He found him to be mildly depressed. He's competent."
That finding would have green-lighted Clark's first jury trial, set for next week. But his guilty pleas finally put an end to a case that began 35 years ago.
At the time of his offenses, the female victims ranged in age from 8 to 13. All were adults when they finally stepped forward to report their abuse.
"This turns out to be a reasonably good end to a pretty sad story," Ajemian said. Clark told the judge, "I didn't hurt the children physically" but admitted inflicting what he called "untold damage," and offered an apology to the victims.
Clark had been indicted on a total of 23 felony counts. After the Waynesboro judge accepted the guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed they would not pursue the remaining charges.
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