By LEVI PULKKINEN
Looking for leniency, Jon Pomeroy found little when he was sentenced Friday for his role in the starvation of his young daughter.
Pomeroy, 43, had previously admitted to standing idly by as his wife, Rebecca Arwen Long, spent years restricting the amount of food and water given to his daughter as punishment for imagined offenses. On Friday, Judge William Downing gave him the maximum sentence available, a 3 ½-year prison term on a single count of first-degree criminal mistreatment.
In sentencing Pomeroy, Downing reflected on the callousness necessary to fail to act as a young girl -- Pomeroy's flesh and blood -- was denied sustenance to the degree that she lost weight between age 9 and 14.
"In this case, (the abuse) went on month after month, year after year," Downing told Pomeroy. "She looked like a prisoner of war because she was, in fact, treated like a prisoner of war."
Long, who contends she suffered from multiple personality disorder at the time the abuse occurred, is scheduled to be sentenced in November. Her attorney said previously that he will ask that she not receive any jail time, though she entered a modified guilty plea to similar charges earlier this month.
Authorities were called to Pomeroy and Long's Carnation home in August 2008 after a neighbor heard the girl screaming for help. When rescue arrived, the girl weighed 48 pounds and stood 4-foot, 6-inches tall.
The teen told detectives she was allowed only about 6 ounces of water each day and was monitored by Long when she bathed to keep her from "sneaking" extra water. Pomeroy, she told police, was aware that she was being starved but did nothing to stop it.
Addressing the court, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Zachary Wagnild recalled an earlier attempt the girl had made to get help in the fall of 2005.
At the time, Wagnild said, Pomeroy and Long still allowed their daughter to leave the home for school. The girl reported the abuse, he said, and her father and stepmother were contacted by authorities, but no action was taken.
In response, Wagnild said, Pomeroy and Long took greater pains to hide the then 11-year-old girl's suffering.
"She used her last life line, and she got nothing for it," Wagnild said. "She was stashed away, and it wasn't for three years that help came barging through the door."
The girl, 15, is doing better in the year since she was pulled from the home.
Her teeth, damaged by malnutrition, have been in part repaired, and her weight has nearly doubled, her foster father Dwight Thompson said Friday. She has shot up six inches since her ordeal ended.
"She's a resilient young lady, and I believe that's what has kept (her) alive," said Thompson, who is caring for the girl and her brother with his wife. "They're loving and sweet kids."
For his part, Pomeroy could do little but apologize for his actions and ask that Downing impose the minimum sentence.
"Nothing I can say is going to change any of this or make it better, but I want to tell (my children) I am deeply sorry for my actions," Pomeroy said. "I would change it if I could, but I can't and I'm sorry."
Anticipating Pomeroy's apology, Wagnild had warned that the man's words would do little to make up for his actions, or lack thereof.
"I have to say, that I don't know what it is about someone like Mr. Pomeroy that allows him to stand by as his wife tortures his daughter," Wagnild said. "I don't know whether it's malice. I don't know whether it's indifference. I don't know whether it's cowardice. …
"The words of sorrow and remorse we are about to hear will have as much an effect on our outrage as they do on his daughter's injuries."
Pomeroy, who had been free on bail, was taken into custody immediately after the hearing and escorted from the court. Downing is scheduled to take up Long's sentencing Nov. 6.
Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Carnation father sentenced to 3 1/2 years for starving daughter
By LEVI PULKKINEN