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February 04, 2005

Man gets 20 to life in sex abuse case

February 4, 2005 [Times-News writer] By Rebecca Meany

TWIN FALLS -- For a crime that prosecutors described as an "obscene abuse," a 5th District Judge ordered a 20-year-old man Thursday to serve 20 years to life in prison for sodomizing an infant.

Adam Dean Jackman, of Filer, pleaded guilty on Nov. 8 to one felony count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor in connection with the Dec. 3, 2003, sexual abuse of a 17-month-old boy.

At his sentencing hearing in front of Judge Richard Bevan, Jackman appeared dressed in orange jail attire, his hands and feet shackled.

As the defendant stood to address the victim's family, court personnel unfastened his handcuffs so he could use sign language to communicate with the baby's mother, who he was dating at the time of the incident. He also spoke out loud:

"I want to start by telling you and your whole family how sorry I am for what happened," Jackman said. "I know there's no way I can fix what happened."

He stopped to fight back tears, then continued:

"I know there's nobody to blame but myself," he said. "I wish every day I could take it back. More than anything, I want (the baby) to know I'm sorry for what happened. He did nothing to deserve what I did. None of you did. I wish there was some way I could go back and take back the pain from the whole family."

Still choked with emotion, Jackman turned to the judge.

"I know there's no excuse at all for anything that I did," Jackman said. "I hope that someday I will make amends somehow. I don't know how or if that's possible. I won't try to minimize this whatsoever. This is the worst thing you could ever do to anybody."

Jackman's public defender, Marilyn Paul, asked the judge for a 5- to 7-year sentence, saying her client has no significant adult criminal record.

"There is nothing to show ... any type of pattern of sexual victimization of others," she said.

Paul told the court Jackman is extremely remorseful and wants to get treatment for his methamphetamine habit.

Grant Loebs, Twin Falls County prosecuting attorney, asked the judge to impose the maximum penalty of life in prison.

"The state cannot see any reason why the court would ever feel safe allowing him to be released from prison," he said. "It's an unspeakable crime to a defenseless child. He needs to have somebody watching him -- probation and parole officers -- making sure that when he snaps, he can be caught quickly. Hopefully, he won't snap, but with Larry Gold's assessment, he likely will."

Lawrence Gold, who conducted a psycho-sexual evaluation of Jackman, told the court he believes Jackman has borderline personality disorder, among other issues.

"It's one of the most painful disorders to have in your life," Gold said. "The primary characteristic is a frantic effort to avoid real or imagined abandonment."

Gold said Jackman acted out in anger when the baby's mother went to the library with the baby's father.

Gold also said Jackman exhibited a level of callousness brought on by lifelong suffering from psychological disorders, as well as his own sexual abuse as a child.

"Adam's collapse of caring or his ability to relate to this child as a baby ... has its roots in both Adam's abuse, the way he was brought up and the methamphetamine that just destroys his conscience."

Jackman claimed to have been up for three days on methamphetamine when the sexual assault occurred.

Jackman has continuously denied that he was responsible for ligature -- or strangulation -- marks on the infant.

But Loebs asked Jackman how he held the baby down while "assaulting" him.

Jackman made no reply.

Loebs asked Gold about the possibility for rehabilitation for a person who suffers from myriad disorders.

Gold responded that the potential was "very low."

Loebs said he wished Idaho had a hospital for the criminally insane so Jackman could get the appropriate treatment while being kept from society. Gold said he would be willing to give the defendant treatment if the court so ordered.

Before issuing his decision, Judge Bevan said that lewd conduct with a minor is one of the most serious crimes that can come before the court.

"This was a horrendously violent event," Bevan told Jackman. "There's clearly undue risk you'll commit another crime of a significant nature."

The judge said a fixed life sentence would be "overly harsh, with no hope for what future may come."

In 20 years, minus 427 days for time served, Jackman will come before the state parole board, which will decide if he's ready to be released.

Jackman will have to register as a sex offender in any county in which he lives, and he must pay a $5,000 fine in addition to counseling and medical bills for the victim.

Filer police took Jackman into custody on Dec. 4, 2003, but he escaped, handcuffed, from the back of a patrol car. He allegedly stole a car and drove to his father's house in Horseshoe Bend, where authorities arrested him the next day.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped injury to child and grand theft charges in exchange for Jackman's guilty plea to the lewd conduct charge.

Times-News writer Rebecca Meany can be reached at 735-3259

Posted by Nancy at February 4, 2005 06:24 PM