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A convicted sex offender pleaded guilty Thursday to molesting two children aged 2 and 7 and was sentenced to five years in prison and mandatory sex offender therapy.
To avoid trial and a possible longer prison term, Stuart Dugaqua, 34, entered his plea to a reduced charge of felony attempted sexual abuse of a minor stemming from a Feb. 27 incident. The original charge was a more serious degree of attempted sexual abuse of a minor for which he could have faced up to 20 years in prison.
Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins imposed the maximum five-year sentence on the reduced charge with no time suspended. Dugaqua is eligible for time off for good behavior and could be out of prison by 2003.
Dugaqua is a registered sex offender stemming from an offense of 1987 when he was convicted of molesting a girl, 7. Collins said he refused sex offender therapy when he was sentenced for that crime.
"When children are abused, I don't know how a sentence can restore youthful victims of this kind of offense," said Collins as she sentenced Dugaqua. "Hopefully, if we isolate you, you will get the treatment you need so there are no other victims down the road."
Public Defender Robert Meachum said the sentence was fair given there was no evidence to convict Dugaqua on the original felony charge.
"There was no evidence he was attempting penetration," Meachum said in court. "The older kid pushed Mr. Dugaqua away. Nothing Mr. Dugaqua said or did would indicate he was attempting penetration, just contact."
Meachum said Dugaqua drank an entire bottle of vodka the night of the offense, was in a "black-out state," and doesn't remember anything.
Assistant District Attorney Kurt Twitty said Dugaqua was at the victims' mother's apartment with his girlfriend on Feb. 27. Twitty said Dugaqua was drinking and his girlfriend left. A short time later, the children's mother left to make a phone call. Twitty said Dugaqua went into the children's room where they were sleeping and placed his hands in the 2-year-old girl's diaper and attempted to take off the undergarments of the 7-year-old girl. When their mother returned Dugaqua was in the children's room and they were crying, Twitty said.
"I can't emphasize to you enough that you need to get the treatment you need, because the next time you come before this court or any other for this kind of offense, you'll spend decades in jail not just a few years," Collins said.
Melanie Plenda can be reached at email@example.com.