A former Snowville, Box Elder County, man charged with abducting a 13-year-old Sandy girl was sentenced to prison Friday for sexual abuse of a child.
Thomas C. Headley was sentenced to serve one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison, despite pleas from his defense attorney that prison will do him no good.Headley was charged with trying to cross the Canadian border on Jan. 19, 1991, with a 13-year-old Sandy girl who claimed to be his daughter but later admitted that she was not. In addition to the kidnapping charge, he also faced two unrelated counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one unrelated count of child rape.
The charges stemmed from several incidents involving two different Salt Lake girls. Those charges were dropped, however, when Headley pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse of a child as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.
Salt Lake County deputy attorney Tom Vuyk asked the judge to give him the maximum sentence and said he doubted any therapy program could help Headley, who has an interest in girls between 11 and 13 years of age.
"There's only one place for him and that's in prison," Vuyk said.
Third District Judge James Sawaya said there is no question that Headley took advantage of an 11-year-old girl and repeatedly abused her sexually. He felt prison was the only alternative.
"This man is sick, no question about it, and he needs to be treated. But the young girls in this state need to be protected," he said.
Sawaya also ordered Headley to pay the victim's counseling costs.
Defense attorney Andrew Valdez said Headley "has come a long way in admitting the problems he's had." He said Headley suffered severe abuse when he was young and doesn't know why he "fell in love" with the 11-year-old girl.
Prison, said Valdez, will not provide him with the therapy he needs. Yet he will likely return to prison without such help after committing the crime again.
Headley was involved in a child kidnapping case three years ago in Box Elder County. He was freed in May 1989 following a mistrial in which he was charged with the 1987 kidnapping and sexual abuse of a 6-year-old Deweyville, Box Elder County, girl.
The jury said it was deadlocked and those charges against Headley were subsequently dropped. Prosecutors said they did not want to subject the girl - who was abducted from school - to another trial.
Fighting back tears, Headley said prosecutors used the Box Elder case against him "in so many ways it was amazing." He pleaded for the chance to show he can be responsible.