Dalton man handed 25-30 years in prison for abusing children


PITTSFIELD -- A Berkshire Superior Court judge, calling the actions of Robert F. Smith "extreme and outrageous," sentenced the Dalton man to up to 30 years in prison on Thursday for 11 charges related to the sexual abuse of a young girl and boy.

Smith, 35, showed little emotion as he sat and listened to the judge. He wore white jail-issued clothing, signaling he is being housed in a segregated jail unit away from the general population.

Smith has been held without bail since a jury convicted him on Jan. 18 on five counts of rape and abuse of a child without force, three counts of rape and abuse of a child aggravated by an age difference, two counts of dissemination of obscene matter to a minor, and a single count of inducing a minor to engage in sexual intercourse.

According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Gregory Barry, Smith sexually abused a girl starting when she was 9 in 2004 until she was 15 in June 2010. Smith forced the boy, who is now 14, to engage in sexual acts with the girl. Smith made both watch pornography and also engaged them in sex acts with himself.

The female victim, who is now 17, told Judge Daniel A. Ford on Wednesday that she had turned to alcohol after her abuse, but has since gotten sober and is doing well in school. The male victim also spoke and said he too was beginning to turn his life around.

Both spoke more about their future hopes and plans than about what had happened to them at the hands of Smith.

Ford praised them for their courage.

Barry, citing the "inexcusably horrific" nature of the crimes, asked the judge to sentence Smith to 25 to 35 years in prison.

"What he did shouldn't happen to anyone and he did it to a child," Barry told the court, adding that the judge should sentence Smith "not for rehabilitation, but to punish him for what he did."

Attorney Nathaniel K. Green, who represented Smith at trial with attorney Joshua C. Hochberg, told the judge not to be "over-swayed by emotion" when sentencing his client, but rather by facts and circumstances.

Green said Smith had a minimal criminal record and should be given a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison, in line with the state's sentencing recommendations. Green also pointed out that no matter what the judge's sentence, Smith would likely be deemed a level 3 sex offender after his release from prison, affecting future relationships and his ability to find employment and housing. Smith will also be on lifetime supervised parole after his release from prison, said Green.

Ford, when handing down his sentence -- a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 30 years in state prison -- said he based his decision not on emotions, but on the "truly reprehensible" facts of the case.


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