Man gets 9 years in prison after convicted of raping 5-year-old girl in Otis
PITTSFIELD — "He took away my childhood."
That was part of a statement from the victim of Steven Hyland, who was sentenced to up to nine years in prison for raping the girl when she was 5.
"He won't be able to victimize any more innocent children," the victim, now 12, wrote in her statement, noting the assault affected her family as well.
"We can't look at the world the same."
Hyland was convicted May 14 of raping the girl, exposing himself to her and warning her not to tell anyone during the summer of 2011 in the Otis Reservoir area.
Jurors took about six hours over the course of two days to reach their verdict.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano, who prosecuted the case, asked Judge Maureen Hogan to impose a 10- to 13-year prison sentence, despite Hyland's lack of prior criminal record.
Yorlano noted the assault took place out in the open against an especially vulnerable victim.
He described the girl as one of the strongest people he's ever met, noting that she carried the secret of that assault with her for years before finally revealing it to her mother.
"This is a parent's worst nightmare," he said.
Hyland's attorney, Richard LeBlanc, countered with a recommendation of a four- to six-year prison sentence followed by probation.
LeBlanc didn't excuse Hyland's behavior, but noted the sentencing guidelines cover a wide range of offenses and aggravating factors and Hyland's should skew toward the lower end of those guidelines considering his client's lack of record and that the lone assault was not a violent act.
"I don't think Steven is a lost cause," said LeBlanc, adding that his sentence recommendation was still significant. "It's not a walk in the park."
Judge Hogan apologized to the victim and her family on Hyland's behalf.
"I'm sorry you had to go through this," she said. "I hope she heals from the trauma."
"You took advantage of her vulnerability to commit these crimes," Hogan told Hyland before imposing the sentence.
"Pedophilia is a disorder," said Hogan. "Acting on it is a crime."
After he serves his sentence, Hyland will be placed on probation for five years, during which time he must have no contact with the victim, undergo sex offender and mental health counseling and submit to GPS monitoring.
He will serve his sentence at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.
Bob Dunn can be reached at email@example.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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