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Mothers of victims in Moorhead day care molestation case lash out at Pabody sentencing

Jon Ralph Pabody

Parents of two young girls who were molested by their day care provider's husband stood just feet away from the man in court today and lambasted him with emotionally charged statements before a judge sentenced him to 13 years and four months in prison.

The older of the two victims, who were 3 and 7 years old when the abuse took place, sat with her family in the courtroom as her mother castigated 54-year-old Jon Ralph Pabody.

"You are not a man. You are a monster," the mother said in Clay County District Court.

Sitting handcuffed at the defense table in an orange jail jumpsuit, 54-year-old Jon Ralph Pabody wept and nodded his head up and down in agreement. Later, he told Judge Galen Vaa that he wished he could do things over.

"I know they're angry, and they have every right to be angry with me," he said. "I've done something horrible."

The mother of the younger girl told Pabody that her daughter "has lost the one thing that belonged to her: It is her innocence." She said the girl has trouble sleeping because of nightmares, and the only thing that comforts her is crawling into bed with her mom.

"It tears my heart because I feel like I failed as a parent," she said.

The Forum is not naming the mothers in order to protect the identity of the victims.

Pabody pleaded guilty last month to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in each of the two separate cases.

Vaa sentenced him to 13 years and four months in prison, the term called for in a negotiated plea agreement between the prosecution and defense. Pabody must serve at least two-thirds of that time - nearly nine years - behind bars.

Vaa also ordered that upon Pabody's release, the state shall petition to have him civilly committed indefinitely as a sexually dangerous person or as having a sexual psychopathic personality, or both.

Prior to the hearing, Vaa ordered the older victim, now 9, removed from the courtroom. He then questioned her mother, who said the girl wanted to be present and deserved to have the closure of seeing Pabody go to prison.

"She has the right to be in here, just as he has the right," she said.

Vaa said state law didn't allow him to bar the girl from the courtroom, but he said he personally thought that it was a bad idea and could cause her emotional stress.

Under Minnesota's sentencing guidelines, Pabody, who had an otherwise clean criminal record, was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 144 months and 160 months, rather than consecutive terms. Both mothers - as well as Vaa and Assistant County Attorney Pamela Harris - agreed he deserved more prison time.

"It troubles me that that is the result in this case," Vaa said.

The younger victim's mother said she will lobby the Legislature to change state law to require mandatory life sentences for people in positions of authority convicted of sexually abusing children.

Pabody must register as a predatory sex offender for life. Should he not be civilly committed after his release, he will be on conditional supervised release for life.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528