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A Spotsylvania County man who repeatedly molested two young girls--including one who was only 4 when the attacks started--was convicted Tuesday of seven felonies.
Sean Stephen Hale, 41, pleaded guilty in Spotsylvania Circuit Court during what was originally scheduled as a pre-trial hearing. He was convicted of two counts of rape, two counts of forcible sodomy, two counts of object sexual penetration and producing child pornography.
All of the charges except the child pornography charge carry potential life sentences. Hale will be sentenced Dec. 12.
In exchange for Hale's pleas, prosecutor Crystal Montague-Holland dropped a number of other charges. Montague-Holland pointed out that the agreement prevents the children from having to testify in open court and that Hale still faces the possibility of a lengthy prison term.
The investigation against Hale began in May when an 11-year-old girl showed up at school with bruises. The girl would not tell school officials what had happened, but called her mother in Arizona instead.
She told her mother that Hale had been sexually abusing her for years and had threatened to shoot her and himself if she revealed their "secret." She said the bruises came from being thrown into a television entertainment center when she resisted his sexual advances that morning.
Child Protective Services had already been called about the bruises, and the Sheriff's Office began its investigation after receiving a call from the mother.
Detective Susan Cantrell-Turner met with the child on May 18, and initially the child refused to talk about how she got her bruises. She then began crying and told Cantrell-Turner about years of sexual abuse that started when she was 4, and said she "was tired of it."
The child gave detailed descriptions of Hale's actions and told of incidents involving Hale and one of the child's friends. That child, now 12, was interviewed on May 31 and confirmed that Hale had abused her repeatedly when she lived in his Spotsylvania neighborhood several years ago when she was 9 and spent time with the first victim.
Warrants were obtained against Hale on May 22 and his home was searched later that day, according to court records. Among the items seized were a computer and a box that contained mementos of his relationship with the second victim, including love letters and pictures of Hale kissing the child. Child pornography was found on the computer.
The second victim told police she was embarrassed to talk about what happened with Hale, but blamed herself because she "let it happen" and was his "girlfriend."
Hale, who was represented by attorneys Sarah Abernathy and Jenna Nacht, has been in jail since his arrest in May.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404