Epping man sentenced for sexually abusing girl
A shackled Kevin Thurlow, 39, did not react as Judge Marguerite Wageling handed down the sentence on Wednesday that capped an hour-long hearing in Rockingham County Superior Court. Thurlow also did not turn to face the young woman he abused, or her father, who spoke of the suffering they've endured as a result of his actions.
"I want you to know that you're despicable and you stole my childhood. You stole my innocence," the victim, now 17, said on Wednesday. "I am stuck with these traumatic memories thanks to you."
A Rockingham County jury convicted Thurlow in September of six counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault and four counts of manufacture of child sexual abuse images. Thursday's sentence was the first wave of criminal charges Thurlow will face in court. Federal prosecutors are now preparing to put Thurlow on trial in February on a three-count indictment of production of child pornography and possession of child pornography.
Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid argued that Thurlow was deserving of an enhanced sentence because of several aggravating factors, including the years-long pattern of abuse and the victim's young age.
Epping police first learned about the girl potentially being abused on July 5, 2008 when Thurlow's wife reported that she found sexually explicit photos on a home computer. Police seized the computer and also came away with 100 marijuana plants found in the home.
Thurlow was convicted in the marijuana case, but it wasn't until 2010 that the young woman was willing to speak about being sexually assaulted, according to prosecutors.
"When she did finally disclose, she felt absolutely horrible - not because what happened," Reid said. Years of being groomed by Thurlow led her to have guilt over getting him in trouble, he said. "She is feeling absolutely horrible because she is breaking a promise to her friend Kevin. That's absolutely insidious," Reid said.
Defense lawyer Deanna Campbell argued that prosecutors were essentially seeking a life sentence for Thurlow and offered no chance for rehabilitation.
She argued for a 20- to 40-year prison term with five years of the minimum reduced if Thurlow completed a sexual offender program, which required him to admit his guilt.
"Certainly, there are second-degree murder cases that get less time," Campbell said of the 43-year sentence.
The victim's father said he wished Thurlow "every discomfort in prison" and hoped he was forgotten by family and friends.
"I want you to understand you are truly the worst kind of scum," he said.
Wageling said she could find no mitigating factors to warrant a lower sentence than what prosecutors recommended. She said Thurlow's selfishness have left unanswered questions for the victim, including: "Am I going to be facing a man tomorrow who has been sent those pictures?"
"I don't have any evidence before me that you did that, but that's what she has to think about," Wageling said. "You stole her serenity."