(Oct. 18, 2013) A 62-year-old Berlin man was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for raping a 14-year-old girl in 1976.
James Louis Moore impregnated the girl, who gave birth to a daughter at age 15. He impregnated her again six years later and she gave birth to another daughter.
He pleaded guilty Aug. 7 to one count of second-degree rape that occurred from Feb. 1, 1976 to March 31, 1976. The victim told Ocean City police in June 2012 that Moore had abused her throughout her childhood. He had forcibly raped her, she said.
Moore’s defense attorney, Julie Guyer, told Judge Thomas C. Groton III in Circuit Court in Snow Hill on Tuesday that her client had been a “wild child” at the time of the rapes. He was living in Ocean City and seeing the mother of the victim. Since then, Guyer said, Moore has had a “significant change of circumstances.”
Rev. Berry McCready, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Berlin, spoke on Moore’s behalf and said Moore had gone to his church before 2000 with Deborah Farlow, whom he eventually married.
“He’s as fine as person as I know,” McCready said. “His fellowship is very precious to us.”
Moore, McCready said, was a member of the church’s Praise Team and was a very special person in his wife’s life.
“He is my friend,” McCready said. “I think he’s an honorable man.”
Deborah Moore said she had been married to her husband for 14 years. Five years ago, she had an injury and lost most of her right foot. Since then, James Moore has been running their errands and refurbished their house to accommodate her wheelchair. Without his income, she said, their house must be sold.
“He goes to work, comes home, goes to church and runs errands,” she said of her husband.
Guyer said her client was a different person than when the crime occurred and she asked for leniency, specifically for a suspended sentence and local jail time if the judge sentenced him to jail. Incarceration, she said, is for rehabilitation and for public safety.
“He doesn’t pose any kind of threat and he’s rehabilitated himself,” Guyer told the judge.
Groton, however, said rehabilitation is only one factor pertaining to incarceration. The other, he said, is punishment.
Moore said he was sorry for any hurt he had caused, but he also said that he had not been aware of the victim’s age and she had not been afraid of him when he has seen her during the intervening years.
Groton told Moore that he had read the victim’s written impact statement and “the hurt jumps off the page.”
The victim, who began counseling in 2008 and continues to get counseling now, wrote, “You can never get over it. It lives with you forever.”
Groton said Moore had no business being involved with the young girl, for whom the crimes had been “a life-altering event.”
He then sentenced Moore to 10 years in prison. Because rape is a crime of violence, Moore must serve at least half of the sentence before being eligible for parole.