HAMMOND — A federal court judge heard arguments on sentencing Friday for David P. Geary, a Hammond man who took pornographic photographs of two young girls he sexually abused while they were in his care.
Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen told attorneys at the sentencing hearing he would reflect on the allegations against Geary and hand down a sentence at a later date.
Geary, 51, faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in July to production of child pornography.
The defendant was accused in December of coercing two minor girls to engage in sexual activity and photographing the acts.
One girl told police Geary began abusing her when she was 6 years old at his home in Hammond. A second victim, age 11, said Geary repeatedly groped her between 2012 and 2014 at the Hammond home. Geary would offer video games as bribes to continue the abuse, the child told authorities.
Geary was charged in Lake Criminal Court with child molestation, but federal authorities took over prosecution of the child pornography case. The defendant's wife, Sheila Geary, is also charged with possessing the pornographic photos of the children.
The older victim provided a brief statement at Friday's sentencing hearing.
“You have destroyed a family,” she said. “You have ruined a life, and I hope the sentence they give you is appropriate.”
Geary told U.S. District Court Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen he was sincerely sorry for the pain he caused. He acknowledged he hurt people who trusted him and may never earn their forgiveness.
“I've disgraced myself,” he said. “I destroyed my family name.”
Defense attorney Charles Hayes noted Geary was a combat veteran in Iraq. Geary also claimed he was sexually abused by a neighbor when he was 9 or 10 years old. Assistant U.S. Attorney Austin M. Berry said even if that were true, it was not an excuse for the heinous crimes.
Berry acknowledged Geary cooperated with the federal investigation and accepted responsibility for the crimes. He said prosecutors learned from questioning Geary about this case he was accused several years ago of having inappropriate contact with a woman, possibly 17 years old, at his church. The elders asked his family to leave the church as a result of his behavior, Berry said.
Hayes requested Van Bokkelen sentence Geary to 24 1/2 years in federal prison, which would allow him to be placed in a minimum-security prison. Berry requested the maximum 30-year prison sentence.
Berry said he would also be requesting restitution to pay for the victims' counseling.
A new sentencing date is not yet scheduled.
The state's molestation case has been stayed while the federal case is pending.
Sheila Geary's case is scheduled for jury trial Jan. 28.