Ex-child care provider in Carbondale gets 3 months in attempted child sex assault
A district court judge Thursday sentenced Walter Daugherty, a 74-year-old former owner of a Carbondale day care who pleaded guilty to attempted child sex assault, to essentially three months in jail and four years of intensive sex offender probation.
Judge John Neiley sentenced Daugherty to six months in jail, but suspended 90 days of that sentence.
Daugherty pleaded guilty to felony attempted child sex assault, with a deferred sentence, and to misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact without consent.
He and his wife owned and operated Carbondale’s Little Angels Daycare, which was closed and its license suspended after his arrest.
Investigators began looking into the case after a 4-year-old girl told her parents that “Walter” had her touch his penis in the bathroom, according to police reports. This was believed to have happened between June and December 2015.
Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey asked for the judge to impose a sentence that the probation department recommended, which included six months in jail.
Daugherty’s actions rippled far beyond the incident itself, and no amount of restitution or therapy will change that, said Hershey.
The community at large has been shaken, as the couple were entrusted by many in the town with the care of their children. Some people referred to the Daughertys as the “grandmother and grandfather of Carbondale,” said Hershey.
Defense attorney Greg Greer told the court that Daugherty’s wife had lost her business and would never be in that line of work again.
Asking for the judge to sentence Daugherty to probation, Greer pointed to the defendant’s old age, his lack of criminal history and his immediate confession to the allegations.
This was an isolated, one-time event, which the court can be confident of because Daugherty’s confession matches the accusation, said Greer.
Many of Daugherty’s relatives and friends attended the sentencing to support him. One man who once had children watched by the Daughertys said he would still entrust his children to their care.
The child’s mother spoke at Daugherty’s sentencing, tearfully asking that he receive no mercy and be sentenced to the maximum extent of the law.
“This crime has damaged all of us,” she said. “Our immediate family, our extended family, our businesses, our way of being in the world.”
The most damaging are “the intangible effects that will go with us all our lives,” she said. “We will never know the full impact on her.”
“I don’t really know what Walter did to my 2-year-old daughter … and we are all less carefree and less trusting in others.”
Before the judge announced his decision, Daugherty said how “very sorry I am for inflicting this pain on this family with my actions. And I will carry this regret for the rest of my life.”
Neiley said that, as a parent himself, he was inclined to grant the mother’s request, that incarceration may serve as a purely punitive sentence. But as a judge, said Neiley, he has to consider other purposes of sentencing beyond punishment, including for rehabilitation.
Greer and Neiley said that supervised sex offender probation is an intensive process and should by no means be read as a slap on the wrist.
Daugherty will also have to register as a sex offender, which will last 10 years at minimum, receive sex offender treatment and pass regular polygraph tests. Daugherty is also not allowed contact with children younger than 18, including his relatives.
Neiley said he couldn’t understand how a man with such a “sterling reputation” in the community, with so much community support, could have fallen so low. “That’s painful to watch” and “the court considers that as much punishment as anything I can impose.”
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