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Man gets 125-plus years for assaulting, abusing mentally disabled girl

April 27, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
  • Henry Nils Hale Jr.
West Virginia Regional Jail & Correctional Facility Authority,

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 46-year-old man on Monday was sentenced to serve 125 to 300 years in prison for sexually assaulting and abusing a mentally disabled girl in Berkeley County between March 2006 and August 2007.

Henry Nils Hale Jr., formerly of Morgantown, W.Va., was found guilty by a jury of 15 counts of sexual assault, sexual abuse and related charges in February 2010. The jury found Hale not guilty of five felony counts in a 20-count indictment that was returned by a grand jury in 2008.

Hale, who was deemed a "predator" by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes on Monday, was ordered to serve the prison terms for each count consecutively.

Hale insisted he was innocent and asked Wilkes to be fair when asked if he had anything to say before he was sentenced.

"I didn't do this," Hale said.

Public defender Thomas Stanley on Monday was unable to convince Wilkes to grant motions for a new trial and for the judge to set aside the jury verdict.

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Stanley told the court that after the trial ended, one juror was reported to have told another juror outside the judicial center that they hoped they made the right decision.

In denying the motions, Wilkes responded that he believed "we all hope and pray" the right decision is made in every case.

Stanley also argued that specific criminal act was not detailed in any of the counts of the indictment.

The victim in the Berkeley County case was 15 when Hale is accused of first committing sexual acts with the girl, but she had an IQ of 53 and the intellectual functioning of a 6- or 7-year old, Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Kimberly Crockett and Stephanie Saunders have said.

Wilkes told Hale that a stiff sentence was "very much in order" after reviewing the defendant's criminal history, which shows "you are a predator."

Wilkes cited Hale's previous conviction, which involved the abuse and assault of a girl beginning at the age of 3 and continuing until she was about 10, according to court filings.

The girl in that case was forced to perform sexual acts with her brother while Hale watched, according to court records.

Wilkes questioned why Hale's previous conviction, which Crockett said came in 1995 while he was in the U.S. Navy, did not trigger sex offender registration requirements.

"Why it wasn't done I don't know," Wilkes said of registration, which is processed from state to state.

Aside from the Berkeley County case, Hale was charged in Washington County, Md., with sexually abusing a minor on two occasions in April 2008, according to court records.

The case, which was forwarded to circuit court, has since been closed, according to court records.

Crockett said Monday after the hearing that Hale was employed as an electrician at Shepherd University when the charges were filed against him in Berkeley County where he resided for a brief period of time.

The victim's mother in a letter to Wilkes that was read aloud in court by Victim's Advocate Heather Deeds said the defendant was "truly a wolf in sheep's clothing."

"My heart aches for her and what she had to go through," the victim's mother wrote.

The girl told the judge in a letter that she has nightmares "of him making me do stuff."

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