James Lee McIntire, a 71-year-old resident of 71 Florida Park Drive in Palm Coast, pleaded guilty on Monday to molesting the 15-year-old daughter of a woman who said he’d molested her, too, when she was 14, some 28 years ago. McIntire pleaded only to the offense for which he was charged–the more recent case, which covers several incidents that took place at McIntire’s home in the summer of 2019. He does not face charges in the previous allegations.
McIntire faced a maximum of 15 years in prison and a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in prison. The plea deal he struck with the prosecution would result in just two years in prison, a lifetime designation as a sex offender, and 10 years of sex offender probation.
He has been out on $50,000 bond since posting bail within hours of his arrest on Jan. 13 this year. He could have been sentenced on Monday. The victim’s family was in the courtroom and was prepared to testify. But McIntire and his attorney, Marc Dwyer, asked that the sentencing be delayed. McIntire recently had knee-replacement surgery. He was going through rehabilitation. He asked not to be sentenced until the end of December. Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark had no objection. Because of scheduling conflicts, scheduling was set for January 6 before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins, enabling McIntire to spend the holidays in freedom until then.
“We’ve had many discussions about this,” Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark, who is prosecuting the case, said. “They know what’s going on and they know what to expect. I’ve agreed to allow Mr. McIntyre to be sentenced at a later date.”
McIntire stood with a cane before Perkins and alongside Dwyer as he retracted his not guilty plea.
“We’re putting off the sentencing, frankly, to accommodate you in your medical treatment and I understand, I’m not being critical,” Perkins told him. “But there are two extra conditions on our plea that I’m adding to that. Number one is that between now and when we do the actual sentencing, you must remain law abiding, and be out there breaking the law in any respect. And the second is, you have to show up like you say you are, so I’m going to see you on the 6th. If you violate those terms, deal’s off, and you will plead to a 15-year felony.”
The victim had documented McIntire’s assaults in her diary, which stretched over three or four months when she was living at his house and her mother was out of town. She did not want to tell her mother as long as she was out of state for fear of stressing her out. She told an aunt, and was advised to lock her door at night and take precautions. The incidents–at least two of which involved McIntire giving alcohol to the girl, which she refused–took place at McIntire’s home and on his boat, and involved various forms of advances, unwanted kissing and touching beneath her clothes. The girl took to going to Holland Park until 8 p.m. to avoid going back to McIntire’s home, then skateboarding there and locking her door. When her mother returned to Palm Coast, McIntire fled, and the mother removed the girl from his house.
McIntire was well aware of what he faced when Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives appeared at the house. He downplayed the assaults, as child abusers typically do, and claimed he had never been attracted to her. He said “multiple times he was sorry for what he has done” and apologized, according to his arrest report.
In previous motions, the defense wanted to exclude the prosecution from introducing allegations that McIntire had also victimized the girl’s mother, citing “lack of relevance” and that it would lead to “unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, and would serve only to inflame the jury.” The judge did not rule on the motion since the plea rendered it moot. When he is released from state prison, McIntire will have to abide by numerous restrictions as part of his probation for 10 years, and his designation as a sex offender beyond that. For example, he will have to comply with a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew every day of the year, a prohibition on living within 1,000 feet of a park, a school, a day care center and other places where children gather, no contact with anyone younger than 18, many restrictions on where he could work, submission to warrantless searches at any time, driving restrictions, and prohibitions on numerous places where he may not go. See the full list here.
While judges are not bound by plea agreements–they may at their discretion exceed the agreed-upon sentence or go below it–it is rare that that they reject them, though not unheard of.