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Putnam man gets maximum sentence for sexually abusing teen

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- A former Putnam County Schools janitor was given the maximum sentence Thursday for sexually abusing a teenage family member.

Michael Timothy Crist, 47, of Pliny, accepted a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty in August to sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or person of trust and child abuse resulting in bodily injury.

Crist was arrested last year and was indicted on those charges, plus second-degree sexual assault, use of obscene matter with intent to seduce a minor, incest, daytime burglary and domestic battery. Those five other charges were dropped in the plea deal.

Crist's attorney, Brendon Long, asked Judge Joseph K. Reeder to allow his client to serve the prison sentences for both remaining charges concurrently.

"He does love his family," Long said. "He's lost a lot in his life: He's lost his job, he's about to lose his home, and he lost his children."

Reeder told Crist that, based on the severity of his crimes, he must serve 10 to 25 years for the sexual abuse charge and one to five years for the child abuse charge.

"Served consecutively," Reeder said, noting that Crist also would be on probation for 40 years after his release.

Crist will receive credit for the 489 days he's already served in jail, Reeder said.

According to police, Crist's family member made the allegations in 2011 while being interviewed at CAMC Women and Children's Hospital after police arrested Crist for hitting the girl and spitting in her face.

The teenager told hospital staff that Crist had forced her to have sex with him over the previous three years, police said in their criminal complaint. She said the abuse began about a month after her 11th birthday.

On Thursday, Crist stood with his hand cupped around his ear, holding a hearing-aid device while Reeder read about 20 minutes worth of information regarding sex-offender laws. About 10 minutes into Reeder's instructions, Crist removed the device from his ear.

Leigh Crist, 39, also of Pliny, filed for divorce from Crist last year. She recently was indicted on child abuse charges, as well.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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