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BY KEITH EPPS
A Spotsylvania man who repeatedly molested two young girls got one of the longest prison sentences in the county's history Wednesday.
Sean Stephen Hale, 41, was ordered to serve four life sentences plus five years in Spotsylvania Circuit Court. Judge David Beck also gave Hale another 85 years that were suspended.
Hale had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, two counts of sodomy, two counts of object sexual penetration and producing child pornography.
According to evidence presented by prosecutors Crystal Montague-Holland and Amanda Sweeney, an investigation began in May when an 11-year-old girl showed up at school with bruises. She wouldn't talk to school officials about what had happened, but she did call her mother in Arizona.
She told her mother that Hale had been sexually abusing her since she was 4 and had threatened to shoot her if she ever revealed their "secret." She told her mother that the bruises came from being thrown into a television entertainment center after she resisted Hale's sexual advances that day.
The mother called the Sheriff's Office after talking with her daughter. Child Protective Services had already been called about the bruises.
Detective Susan Cantrell-Turner met with the child on May 18. The girl initially refused to talk, but later began crying and told Cantrell-Turner about the years of sexual abuse. She told the detective that she was "tired of it."
In addition to giving police detailed descriptions of her own abuse, the girl told police that Hale had also molested one of her friends. That girl, now 12, was interviewed on May 31 and confirmed what the first victim said.
The second girl said she was abused when she lived in Hale's neighborhood when she was 9 and spent time with the first victim. The abuse stopped only after the child moved away.
The second victim told police she was embarrassed to talk about what happened with Hale, and blamed herself because she "let it happen" and was his "girlfriend."
A search of Hale's home turned up a box that contained mementos of his relationship with the second child, including love letters and pictures of Hale kissing the child. Child pornography was found on his computer, court records state.
Montague-Holland noted that in his psychosexual evaluation, Hale showed no remorse and blamed everyone else, including the children.
He said he never forced the girls to do anything and was simply doing what they wanted him to do.
Montague-Holland said the children had been "irreparably damaged."
In a statement made Wednesday, Hale did not apologize and said he wanted to get out of prison to teach his son about carpentry and to see his mother.
The recommended state sentencing guidelines called for a maximum sentence of 23 years, but Montague-Holland argued that wasn't nearly enough for his "vile and heinous" acts. Judge Beck agreed.
Bill Neely, the county's longtime commonwealth's attorney, said Wednesday that he could only recall one other sentence in Spotsylvania that exceeded Hale's.
That involved another sex offender who got six life terms, Neely said.
Hale was represented by attorneys Sarah Abernathy and Jenna Nacht.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404