Steven Card, 29, was facing punishment on two life felonies and two second-degree felonies if convicted on charges that he sexually abused a pre-pubescent girl, taking pictures of her while she slept and using her limbs to gratify himself–and take more pictures as he did so. He’d also called himself “a monster” in an apology letter, and had confessed to his crimes to a Flagler County Sheriff’s detective who was investigating them last year. Going to trial on those charges likely meant certain conviction and prison for the rest of his left.
Today, Card pleaded to lesser charges before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins, who sentenced him to 15 years in prison followed by 15 years on probation and a lifetime designation as a sex offender. He had known the family intimately–he was a member of the household–though the intimacy was supposed to have been limited to certain bounds.
The mother of the victim, who testified at the hearing, was in agreement with the sentence. In her statement to the court, she, tied the trauma of the case’s revelations to her grandfather’s heart attack, which occurred shortly afterward (and his ongoing physical therapy). “For me personally, after having to confirm the photos that detective Lashbrook found on his devices,” the mother testified, referring to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Dennis Lashbrook, who investigated the case, “it did take me several months to be able to stop bursting into tears at random times and to get to some semblance of getting okay through my days, and to stop just seeing them.”
She added, “For all the negative things that he has put us through and that has brought to us, it did allow us to see his true colors and the kind of person that he is, and for the breathing room that we didn’t know that we needed. My daughter spends a lot more time out of her room, more time with her family, talking to her friends instead of on her phone and staring at her TV.” Ultimately, she said, “as horrible and horrendous as his crimes are, it did allow me the opportunity to live my life a little bit better” with her children “and make us a little more comfortable in getting us through our days.”
Card then stood next to his attorney, before Perkins, in his orange jail garb, hands and legs in shackles, answering in a submissive voice all the judge’s questions (“yes, sir,” “no, sir”). He’s been at the jail since his arrest last September 16, time that will be credited to his prison sentence, but under Florida law individuals sentenced on sex offences are not eligible for gain time, or early release, so he will have to serve his sentence day for day. He pleaded to attempted molestation on the two life felonies, and pleaded guilty to counts of promoting sexual performance by a child (the pictures he took) and his exhibitionism in the presence of the child (he’d taken pictures of himself in various states of tumescence), in essence equalizing all charges to second degree felonies.
The state agreed not to pursue further charges resulting from the images he took or stored. Card forfeited all his electronic devices, though he would have had to regardless: none are allowed in prison, except the troves of such devices smuggled in to circumvent the prison system’s habit of gouging inmates and their families who use the sanctioned phone lines. Once released from prison, the terms of Card’s probation include severe restrictions on where he may live. He will be required to submit to an annual polygraph exam, will have a mandatory curfew and will be barred from working in numerous industries that typically cater to children.
Lashbrook, who leads the sheriff’s cyber crimes unit, began his investigation 10 months ago after receiving tips by way of Google. Card had used Google Photos’ “infrastructure” to store 19 of his images, thus alerting the service that he was doing something illegal. The images had been downloaded, and the location of the downloading established. Lashbrook first secured a search warrant to search the Google account.
The search revealed four images that were not part of the original find, some of them indicating abuse, and all of them including clues that would lead to the identification of the victim and to Card, both in Palm Coast.
Card later admitted to sending pictures of himself naked and in sexual situations to other underage girls. His residence was searched on Sept. 16, with units from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office assisting. The suspect images were shown to the girl’s mother, who identified her child, clothing and a particular mattress. Card’s confessions followed.
Card was represented by Assistant Public Defender Spencer O’Neal. Assistant State Attorney Melissa Clark prosecuted the case.
Deborah Coffey says
Two life felonies and he gets 15 years? We’ve got some lousy judges and a lousy justice system. This guy will be right back at it when he gets out because his problem can’t be cured.
Florida Voter says
For the crimes that he committed? 15 years is life in prison. A few weeks might even be “life” in prison:
Concerned Citizen says
You and I don’t agree on a lot of things around here. And I will catch flak from Ray W for saying this but.
I’m sick and tired of these silly pleas cutting breaks for sexual offenders. We have the worst judicial system in the area. They care more about clearing calendars and dockets than they do about victims of crimes. And I won’t go into Perkins apparent soft spot for pedos.
I worked in Law Enforcement myself and sex crimes were some of the hardest cases to work. But at least back home we had Judges that supported us. And weren’t afraid of offending someone by enforcing the law. You didn’t hand them a case like this and not get the sentencing you hoped for.It was usually maxed out.
This case among others is another reason to remember we need new faces at election time.
Judge Perkins sure hands out light sentences why is that?