A foster father who pleaded no contest to molesting five emotionally disturbed boys placed in his care at a Lake View Terrace home was sentenced Tuesday to six years in state prison.
Edward Lamar Burgess, 27, of Sunland entered the no-contest pleas last month to five sexual abuse charges involving five boys, but he continues to deny molesting the boys, a probation report said.
Burgess told a probation officer that he accepted the plea bargain, which dismissed 21 counts in return for his plea, “because I could not see any of these boys testifying in court” and the experience would “further damage them,” the report said.
From 10 to 17 Years Old
Deputy Dist. Atty. Kenneth Loveman said the boys, ranging in age from 10 to 17, were living at the Youth Haven Group Home on Foothill Boulevard in Lake View Terrace because they were emotionally disturbed.
He said one of the boys, a 17-year-old with the mental capacity of a 5-year-old, was placed in foster care because of previous sexual abuse.
San Fernando Superior Court Judge Dana Senit Henry gave Burgess the maximum sentence allowed under the plea arrangement.
Although Burgess could have been sentenced to as much as 40 years in prison if convicted of all 26 charges filed against him, Loveman said the boys’ emotional problems would have made the case difficult to take to trial.
Problem With Testifying
“I do not know whether or not the multiple counts on multiple dates could have been proven,” Loveman said after the sentencing. The victims “can tell me it happened three or four times, but telling me it happened once in May and once in June is beyond them to some extent,” he said.
Because Burgess has no record and agreed to enter a plea at an early stage in the court proceedings, Loveman said, “these kids will never have to testify. Those were serious factors that had to be taken into consideration.”
Burgess told a probation officer that he believes the boys made up damaging stories about him because he “had to get strict” with them to improve conditions at the home, the probation report said.
According to the report, Burgess explained his decision not to have a jury trial by saying, “I really love those kids.”
Burgess, who will be required to register with local police as a sex offender when he is released from prison, will be eligible for parole in about three years, Loveman said.