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Eureka man sentenced for molesting 6-year-old

| November 8, 2005 11:00 PM

A 22-year-old Eureka-area man who pleaded guilty to sexually molesting a 6-year-old girl was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended.

According to court documents, when questioned by police last spring, Larry Dale Van Hoy admitted to fondling the girl's genitals and said he needed to get help. He pleaded guilty to sexual assault, a felony punishable by four to 100 years in prison.

In a plea agreement with Van Hoy, the county attorney's office agreed to recommend a 10-year prison sentence if a psycho-sexual evaluation classified Van Hoy as a level 1 or level 2 offender, but left sentencing open if the evaluation resulted in a classification of level 3 with a high likelihood of re-offending.

In court on Monday, County Attorney Bernie Cassidy pointed out that Van Hoy has been classified a level 3 offender and asked for a sentence of 20 years with 10 years suspended. The additional period of probation takes into account Van Hoy's young age and his pedophilia and chemical dependency problems, Cassidy said.

Van Hoy's attorney, John Putikka, told Judge Michael Prezeau that the crime is Van Hoy's first felony and that Van Hoy cooperated with police and took responsibility for his actions from the start. With a 10-year sentence and a requirement to complete sexual offender treatment before being eligible for parole, Van Hoy would be lucky to get released from prison in five years, Putikka said.

"I'm not trying to minimize the nature of the crime with which he was charged, your honor, but 10 years of my client's life is a long time," he said.

Putikka asked the judge to impose the 10-year sentence as recommended in the plea agreement.

Prezeau told Van Hoy that he didn't agree with much of what his attorney said, but he said he appreciated that Van Hoy owned up to his crime.

"When you've come to court there hasn't been any indication that you thought the only thing you did wrong was get caught," Prezeau said. "I see a lot of people like that."

In imposing the stiffer sentence recommended by Cassidy, Prezeau told Van Hoy he wasn't acting in anger but out of concern for the protection of other potential victims. He said he wanted Van Hoy to be under the supervision of a probation officer for a longer period of time to help him get his life on track after prison.