Charles F. Little Jr., 58, a retired Lexington music teacher accused of sexually abusing three males more than 20 years ago, was placed on probation for two years. He will also have to complete 40 hours of community service and pay $150 in court costs.
Going against a recommendation from prosecutors, a Fayette Circuit judge decided Friday that probation would be the best option for a well-known retired Lexington music teacher accused of sexually abusing three males more than 20 years ago.
Fayette Circuit Judge Kim Bunnell suspended a 12-month jail sentence and placed Charles F. Little Jr., 58, on probation for two years. He will also have to complete 40 hours of community service and pay $150 in court costs.
Bunnell said she decided against sending Little to jail, in part, because she was swayed by a flood of letters of support from Little's friends, former students and colleagues. But the judge also said she took into account Little's criminal record, which doesn't boast anything more than a speeding ticket.
"A lot of people that have written letters on your behalf are people that I know -- and have a great deal of respect for," she said before telling Little his sentence. "You have no criminal history, and I have no reason to think that you'll do anything but succeed on probation."
The decision created sighs of relief on one side of the courtroom; and sobs of despair on the other.
Little, 58, was facing six to 12 months in prison. In December, he accepted a plea deal, which amended three felony counts of third-degree sodomy to three misdemeanor counts of sexual misconduct. Little entered an Alford plea, meaning he was not admitting guilt, but acknowledging there was enough evidence to find him guilty if he went to trial. Prosecutors recommended six months for each charge; however, the judge could not sentence Little to more than one year in jail....
...Bunnell received a stack of letters from teachers and principals, parents and students, ministers and church members. Most attested to Little's impeccable character, his influence in their life, or in the lives of their children....
...Bunnell said she also read a letter from the mother of one of Little's accusers, who wrote to share with her the pain she carried in her heart, and to plead for justice. "I understand the mother's pain," Bunnell said.
Little left the courtroom flanked by several supporters.
Burnett's mother, Mary Nealy, stood in the hallway wiping away her tears. "Lord have mercy on your souls," she yelled to Little and his friends as they walked by. "Your heart is guilty."
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Long-time FCPS music teacher and community volunteer Charles Little avoided trial by taking a deal with prosecutors for a reduced charge of misdemeanor sexual misconduct...20 years ago. He stood to serve a year in jail.
Swayed by numerous written testimonials, and Little's otherwise clean record, Judge Kim Bunnell decided on probation and community service instead.
This is a photo of Little in happier times; long after the alleged events, but before accusations surfaced. He was the Lexington Festival Committee Chairman in July 2004. In those days, it seemed that every time Rita and I attended a downtown event, Little had organized some part of it. Before his retirement, Little worked tirelessly. He always had something extra going on to showcase student talent. He earned the respect of many.
But subsequent allegations were serious. They involved youngsters. They couldn't be simply dismissed. There was no trial. There was no admission. There was only the court.
This from the Herald-Leader:
JUDGE ORDERS PROBATION, COMMUNITY SERVICE