Westminster Man Gets 25-Year Term in Sex Assault on Child

… He pleaded guilty in attack on 21-month-old; girl almost died, doctors say …

baltimoresun.com

By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

9:20 PM EDT, June 2, 2011

Ryan C. Gifford had used a lot of heroin that day and drank wine and other alcohol, his lawyer said. “He was high pretty much the entire evening,” said his lawyer, Lee McNulty.

That is why his client had no recollection, he said, of assaulting, burning and sexually abusing a 21-month-old child on an April night last year, acts that doctors said almost killed the toddler and for which Gifford received a 50-year prison sentence — half of it suspended — in a Westminster courtroom Thursday.

Carroll County Circuit Judge J. Barry Hughes addressed the 24-year-old defendant and decried the “depraved and selfish torture that you inflicted on this child,” a crime that he called “heinous and beyond the pale.”

Prosecutors said Gifford stuffed a sock into the girl’s mouth during the attack, causing her to lose consciousness. The burns on her body were apparently made by Gifford with a cigarette to prompt her to come around, and there was evidence that she was raped, according to court documents.

The victim was the daughter of Gifford’s girlfriend at the time, and both were spending the night of April 11, 2010, at the defendant’s house in Westminster when the attack occurred, police said. Gifford assaulted the child in a shower while her mother was sleeping, according to police.

Gifford must undergo substance-abuse treatment and stay away from the child’s relatives, several of whom were a few feet away in the courtroom, and have no contact with children younger than 8 years old. If he does not comply, the judge told him, “you will serve the balance of the suspended sentence.”

The defendant — shackled and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, his hair cropped to a crew cut — chose not to address the court or the girl’s family, but his lawyer said Gifford had written letters to the judge and to the victim’s relatives expressing remorse. The letters were not read aloud in court.

“I pray that my granddaughter will not remember the horrible things you have done to her,” one relative said. The girl’s mother, who is expecting another child this summer, did not address the court.

The victim’s maternal grandmother, who has legal custody of the child, fought tears as she described the girl’s condition after the assault, with bruises and respiratory problems and her eyes swollen shut.

“This little innocent human being lying there did not deserve this,” said the woman, whose family is not being identified by The Baltimore Sun because of the nature of the assault against the child.

Prosecutor Kelley D. Galvin said there was no way to be certain whether there would be lasting physical effects from the assault, in particular from any oxygen deprivation the girl might have suffered.

Outside the courtroom, the girl’s maternal grandmother said the child, who will turn 3 in July, is “clingy” and “doesn’t like showers or anything hot.”

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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… Goodbye, Mr. Gifford. …

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