A Cartersville man was given a sentence of life plus 19 years in prison for molesting a Powder Springs girl.
According to a press release from Kimberly Isaza, spokesperson for Cobb Acting District Attorney John Melvin, jurors found Gary Thomas Shaughnessy, 64, guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual battery and five counts of child molestation. The trial began Monday in the Superior Court courtroom of Judge Robert Leonard II.
Shaughnessy was represented in court by Marietta attorney Joel Bergstrom.
The Cobb County Police Department investigated the case.
The acts charged in the indictment occurred in the girl’s Powder Springs home in 2016 and 2017.
In 2017 the girl, who is now 11 years old, told people in her church about the about the abuse, and they notified the police.
The acts included rubbing the child’s thigh and forcing her to sit on his lap. The parents had previously found Shaughnessy’s behavior toward the girl inappropriate, but at the time told Shaughnessy and the girl, separately, to stop.
“We know that predators groom children by giving gifts and testing the waters and then escalating sexual abuse based on the child’s reaction,” said Assistant District Attorney Drew Healy, who prosecuted the case with ADA Ashton Murphy. “Parents and caregivers are also groomed, until abuse can occur in plain sight. It is essential that we notice the red flags and protect those children when they are trying to tell us something is wrong.”
The press release reports that in addition to the child’s testimony and other evidence, jurors heard recordings of calls the defendant made from jail. In one of the calls he said: “I wish I had never done what I did. I just had a weakness.”
Shaughnessy had been in jail since July of 2017.