Story by Mitchell Wajda and Kelsey O’Connor
TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — A Lansing man was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday in Tompkins County Court for raping a young girl on multiple occasions. In a written statement read in court Wednesday, the girl described how the crime and coming forward about it had impacted her life.
James R. Stark, 38, of Lansing, was arrested in May and charged with second-degree rape, a felony, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to the charge in August and was remanded to Tompkins County Jail without bail.
Court records, including an interview with Stark, show that he admitted to having oral sex and sex with a 13-year-old girl on multiple occasions between November 2017 and May 2018.
Stark was sentenced Wednesday by Judge John Rowley to five years of incarceration and 10 years of post-release supervision.
The victim, who is 13, was present in court Wednesday for the sentencing. Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama read a statement written by the girl in court. The girl described how her life has been impacted by the crime and coming forward about it. She said it has affected her home life, her ability to focus in school and wrote she wakes up in the middle of the night unable to breathe. She finished by writing she would like to see Stark go to prison and stay away from her.
Lama said the crime was not an uncharacteristic aberration for Stark, but a pattern. She said he was previously charged sexual misconduct in 1999 though ultimately pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child. He was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child in 2004, Lama said.
Lama said Stark’s actions escalated over time, first starting as touching and eventually escalating to oral sex and sex on many occasions. Lama said the girl was brave to come forward and did the right thing.
“I’m proud of her,” Lama said.
Defense attorney Jerome Mayersack, who represented Stark, said “this is an awful crime” and said Stark is a “damaged, broken man.”
Stark also spoke in court Wednesday and apologized. “If I could take it back, I would,” Stark said. He said it was the worst thing he ever did in his life and said, “I really wish I had never done it.”
Rowley said the damage done is “substantial” and said the “whole world for this young child” has been impacted. He encouraged Stark to take part in sex offender training.
Rowley ultimately sentenced Stark to what was agreed upon in the plea, which was five years in prison and 10 years of post-release supervision. He also issued the maximum order of protection possible.