Stockton, CA – A 79-year-old man who pleaded no contest to raping a 5-year-old girl was sentenced to just three months of house arrest on Wednesday.
Lyle Burgess, a businessman who founded Rare Parts Inc. in 1981, was given the option to choose between a 90-day alternative-work program and 90 days of house arrest, the Stockton Record reported.
He will serve five years on informal probation, and will not be required to register as a sex offender.
During Burgess’ sentencing hearing, the little girl’s mother argued that her child’s abuser was “getting off so easy” in light of the damage he had caused.
“Our daughter has been harmed by this man continuously,” she testified.
The girl’s mother went on two describe the assaults her daughter experienced at Burgess’ cabin during the fall of 2016.
“I am incredibly disgusted by his behavior and continuously disgusted by his lies,” the mother added. “I want other kids to be protected by possible future abuse by this man.”
On Wednesday, Burgess pleaded no contest to felony statutory rape as a condition of a plea agreement.
"A 5-6-year-old little girl was molested,” the family’s attorney, Ken Meleyco, told KTXL. “Normally, the sentence is state prison and then when you're released, you have to register as a sex offender.”
Meleyco said he believed Burgess’ light sentence was indicative of his financial resources.
“He’s obviously very wealthy. It's just an example of how the wealthy people, time and time again, escape the penalty for what they did," he said.
Meleyco said that the now seven-year-old victim has not fared well since the assaults.
"She's showing all the symptoms of somebody who's been molested,” he explained. “She's in counseling, and she's going to be in counseling all her life.”
The child’s parents have filed a civil lawsuit against Burgess, but his attorney claimed the businessman did nothing wrong, The Sacramento Bee reported.
“My client maintains his innocence,” attorney Gregory Davenport said after the lenient sentence was imposed. “I believe the allegations are motivated by greed. They are using this instance to try to gain financially.”