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Grandfather gets prison for sexual assault of girl, 6 | News

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Grandfather gets prison for sexual assault of girl, 6

SPARTA, Mich. (WZZM) -- A 71-year-old Sparta grandfather who sexually assaulted a young girl apologized for the "mental pain and suffering'' he inflicted on the child; a final act of contrition before he was led away to prison for a minimum of 10 years.

"All I can say is I make a humble apology,'' Lawrence Norman Gibbons said. "I'm sorry for the mental pain and suffering I put her through and the mental anguish she'll have for the rest of her life.''

Gibbons in August pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with the six-year-old girl, whom he knew, at his Sparta home last summer.

The victim's stepmother told Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth the girl, now 7, "is scarred for life.''

"She is very hurt and devastated; she wants him to go to jail for what he did to her and so do I,'' the woman said. "No child should have to go through this.''

The offense he was charged with carries a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison, but the Kent County Prosecutor's Office agreed to remove that in exchange for Gibbons' plea. A second count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct also was dismissed as part of the plea.

Buth sentenced Gibbons to the maximum allowed under the plea. He'll spend between 10 and 25 years in prison and will have to be on electronic monitoring for life once he is released.

Gibbons has been in the Kent County Jail on a $1 million bond since his February arrest.

The Sparta Police Department began investigating after being contacted earlier that month by the Children's Assessment Center in Grand Rapids.