By Doug McMurdo • The Times-Independent
A Moab man received a 10-year prison sentence Tuesday after pleading no contest to two felony counts of attempted sexual abuse of a child.
Visiting 7th District Court Judge George Harmand sentenced Kenneth George Sherman, 59, to two 5-year terms, which will run consecutively, meaning Sherman won’t begin serving his second sentence until his first is completed. Sherman is currently in prison for felony DUI. He will begin serving time on the first sex abuse of a child sentence concurrent to that case.
According to an explanation Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald provided to the court, Sherman was on parole last May 26 when he was drinking at a birthday party hosted at a relative’s Moab home. At the home were two children, a 7-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sister, according to the attorneys. Fitzgerald said witnesses told investigators that Sherman went “in and out” of the home several times. At one point in the night the children’s mother found her daughter in Sherman’s bedroom. The girl was crying and reportedly told her mother Sherman touched her genitalia and put his tongue in her mouth. He also reportedly touched her brother while the boy slept. The boy has no memory of the incident, he said, because he was sleeping.
Sherman has said he has no memory of the incident, either, but the girl does and her testimony, if the case had gone to trial, would have been “powerful,” said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald agreed to reduce the charges from first- to third-degree felonies and to allow Sherman to plead no contest – meaning he doesn’t admit guilt but concedes the state has abundant evidence to prove its case at trial – in order to “spare this little girl the difficulty of going through this unpleasant process.”
Fitzgerald also noted Sherman’s DUI case began with a reported kidnapping of a 2-year-old in Moab. Sherman had taken the girl for ice cream without her parents’ knowledge and returned her to her home before police found him. Fitzgerald said there didn’t seem to be any harm to the child, who was unable to articulate whether or not Sherman did anything inappropriate. But he was driving impaired with a child in his vehicle, according to court records.
“There’s no evidence to suggest he did anything to the child, but he’s more interested in kids” than a stranger should be, said Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald said Sherman plays this “grandpa figure” in order to groom victims to accept sexualized behavior as normal and then takes advantage of them. “Mr. Sherman is a predator,” he said.
Through tears, the children’s mother told Judge Harmand she was “extremely shocked” when her daughter told her what happened. She said she didn’t think five years was enough time in prison if for no other reason than she doesn’t want Sherman to victimize any other children. She also said she hopes the incident doesn’t cause her daughter to never trust another man or develop long-term problems later.
“I would just like to apologize,” said Sherman. I have 10 grandchildren and I would never hurt a child.” He said he has no memory of what happened. He said “they were all drinking” that night and “somebody had to watch the children.”