A city woman who provided access to a 3-year-old girl for sex with her boyfriend and later husband was sentenced to 12 1/2 to 25 years in state prison Tuesday in Lycoming County court.
Samantha Marie Mathers, 24, of 2500 Federal Ave., conspired with Richard L. Lafayette, 39, of Watertown, N.Y., a man she met online, to use a toddler to which she had access for sexual purposes.
The two used an instant message program to discuss abusing the child. In some messages, Lafayette told Mathers to perform sex acts on the girl and to "train her for me," according to investigators. They also discussed having sex in front of the toddler so she would be accustomed to it, according to message transcripts.
When Lafayette, who was enlisted in the Army, visited Mathers and the girl on leave sometime in April 2011, he used a sex toy on the toddler while Mathers tried to relax the child while stroking her hair and rubbing her back, according to testimony.
Lafayette, who eventually married Mathers, pleaded guilty a year ago to criminal solicitation to rape of a child. He accepted an offer for 7 1/2 to 15 years in state prison - a similar sentence that was offered to Mathers this April, which she did not accept.
Instead, Mathers chose at that time to have charges of conspiracy involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, conspiracy aggravated assault of a child, sexual exploitation of children, endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors heard before Judge Marc F. Lovecchio.
Mathers was found guilty on all charges.
"Without question, it's one of the most disturbing cases I've been involved with either as an attorney or a judge," Lovecchio said during the sentencing. "It's the kind of offense that is abhorrent in any civilized society."
The judge said Mathers was even more to blame than Lafayette for what happened.
"I believe you're more culpable," Lovecchio said. "You laid (her) out on a silver platter for him to molest her. You knew what was going on and you allowed it to happen. You not only allowed it, you married the man who did it."
"I loved my husband ... I just wanted to make him happy," Mathers said in court in April.
In pre-sentence psychological reports, Mathers told evaluators that she was abused as a child and had a history of drug use and personality disorders.
Psychologists found that Mathers did not meet the clinical definition of having mental deficiencies and knew right from wrong, according to their reports.
Her defense attorney, Julian Allatt, said Lafayette found Mathers as a willing participant for his actions. He said she latched onto Lafayette in hopes of bettering her life and moving out of the area.
"The issue here is who is really the predator and who was the victim. She was taken advantage of," Allatt said.
Lovecchio disagreed, saying "you're both really the predator."
The judge said Mathers failed to show emotion for her actions.
"It wasn't until today that you expressed any remorse whatsoever," he said. "I saw nothing to believe that said, 'I can't believe I did this ..."