By Joe Beck
FRONT ROYAL -- A Winchester man was sentenced to six years in prison Monday in Warren County Circuit Court as a result of a plea agreement that received reluctant approval from Judge Dennis L. Hupp.
Keith Douglas Crisp, 36, received a total prison sentence of 50 years, 44 of them suspended under terms of the plea agreement. Crisp had earlier pleaded no contest to sodomy committed by an adult with a child less than 13. Crisp was also sentenced to five years supervised probation to be followed by unsupervised probation for the remainder of his life.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Layton told Hupp the plea agreement was acceptable to the family of the victim, an 11-year-old girl, and law enforcement officials.
Layton cited concern over the girl's emotional well being as the main reason for agreeing to suspend much of the sentence imposed on Crisp. The girl had testified against Crisp at a preliminary hearing months ago. She and her family were in the courtroom during the sentencing hearing.
"As I understand it, the commonwealth's case relies solely on the testimony of the victim," Hupp said. "There is no scientific evidence."
Authorities arrested Crisp in May after the girl's mother reported him to law enforcement officials.
"It will avoid the pain of having the young lady testify in court, whether at a bench trial or a jury trial," Layton said of the plea agreement.
Crisp's attorney, Mark Williams, defended the plea agreement as acceptable for a client whose risk of reoffending is "low to moderate despite his accepting less than full responsibility" for the crime.
Nevertheless, Hupp said the plea agreement fell well short of what the state guidelines classify as a middle range sentence for sodomy with a child.
"Because the plea agreement falls at the low end of the guidelines, I'm having great difficulty with this," Hupp said, adding that, "I have trouble finding the words to express what I feel about this type of case. It is so disgusting, so reprehensible, so despicable."
But Hupp said he agreed with Layton that the emotional well being of the child was a "legitimate" concern in weighing whether the case should go to trial.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or email@example.com