Franklin D. Schafer, convicted June 18 of sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl as her 7-year-old brother watched, was sentenced Thursday to 20 years to life in prison.
Schafer, 50, of Dickersonville Road, Porter, is planning an appeal. He did not take the bait when Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza advised him to “own up” to what he did.
“There’s a lot of things I can say,” Schafer said. But he kept them to himself.
A letter from the victims’ mother, read aloud in court, called Schafer “a horrible monster.”
“It makes me sick to my stomach when I hear anyone believe Frank over my children,” the mother wrote.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello said of Schafer, “He has forfeited his right to live in decent society.”
After 15 hours of deliberations and re-reading of testimony over a two-day period, the jury found Schafer guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child for having oral sex with the girl. Schafer also was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of child endangerment.
The jury acquitted Schafer on another predatory assault count that accused him of having intercourse with the girl. The incidents occurred Jan. 3 in Schafer’s home.
Defense attorney Scott Stepien filed a motion, which was denied, asking Sperrazza to overturn the verdict because of a purported error in re-reading the 6-year-old’s testimony to the jury.
At Stepien’s request, Sperrazza had ordered that the children be told not to mention a particular sex act. When the girl got into that on the stand, Sperrazza said, “Let’s move on.” In the read-back, that part was omitted.
Sperrazza said Thursday that the girl’s testimony was practically whispered. “I am confident the jury did not hear the three or four words that are at issue,” she said.
Donatello noted that Stepien agreed with that at the time. Quoting the trial transcript, Donatello said Stepien commented, “I think it’s pretty obvious the jury didn’t hear it.”
“He chose not to bring it up,” Donatello said. “To ask the court to revisit it is ludicrous.”
Stepien said he thinks Schafer’s conviction will be overturned on appeal based on precedents regarding incomplete assistance to the jury. But Donatello said “objectionable testimony” need not be read back.
She also denounced Stepien for calling the children “pathological liars” in the written text of his motion to overturn the verdict. “Unconscionable,” the prosecutor called it.
Sperrazza rebuked Stepien, saying no evidence about the children’s reputation for truth or falsehood was offered.
Stepien said he did not present such evidence because he thought Sperrazza would rule it inadmissible.