"All we have to say after we commit horrid crimes-- is "I'm sorry Daddy loves you so much."
Society buys it - hook, line and sinker.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A Graniteville dad, who burned his young son’s hand and forced him naked into an oven last year was sentenced today to four months of weekends in jail and five years’ probation.
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James Moss’ sentencing came after an emotional plea by his son, Christopher, 11, to spare his father jail time.
"I just can’t see my dad taken away from me," the little boy sobbed, reading a prepared statement to state Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Collini. "If he’s not with me, I’m nothing. Everybody in my family ... is giving him a second chance, will you?"
Moss potentially faced up to seven years in prison. He pleaded guilty in May to all seven counts of an indictment against him, including two of second-degree assault. Prosecutors said he attacked his son because he thought the boy had stolen $20 from his wallet.
In imposing sentence, Collini said he needed to balance the seriousness of the crime against other factors, including Christopher’s "powerful" statement in support of his father, the trauma the boy has already endured, and his mother’s "strong desire" to keep the family intact. He also said the hulking Moss had demonstrated "uninhibited remorse" and had only one prior arrest — in 1975 for shoplifting.
"This court feels compelled to temper justice with compassion," said the judge.
Collini noted the city Probation Department, which had interviewed Moss prior to sentencing recommended some jail time and five years’ probation.
The judge said Moss, 53, can’t live with his son for a year, but can have supervised visits with him during that time.
He also ordered the defendant to undergo psychiatric counseling, anger-management treatment and drug testing. Moss, who was fired from his custodial job after his arrest, must also perform community service if he can’t get a job, said the judge.
Prior to sentencing, defense lawyer Mark J. Fonte cited a report by the city Administration for Children’s Services which recommended the family be kept together and Moss be allowed to return home. Moss is living in Brooklyn.
The lawyer also said his client had successfully participated in anger-management and parenting programs and was undergoing psychiatric counseling.
"This was the correct sentence, the appropriate sentence, and a courageous sentence," Fonte said outside court. "Judge Collini tempered justice with mercy and his actions were a profile in courage."
Prosecutors had recommended the maximum.
In a statement earlier this week, District Attorney Daniel Donovan called the incident "one of the most shocking and sadistic cases of child abuse I have ever prosecuted."
Christopher suffered second- and third-degree burns on his hands, spatula marks on his back and scrapes on his knees, and needed to be placed on a morphine drip, prosecutors said.
In court papers, prosecutors said Moss attacked his son, then 9, because he believed the boy took $20 from his wallet. He said he wanted to teach Christopher a lesson.
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Moss threatened to kill the boy, then took him to the basement, stripped him naked and ordered him back up to the kitchen, where he beat him in the back with a plastic spatula.
He turned on two oven burners, waited for them to heat up, then turned them off and held Christopher’s hands over them. He punched the boy in the face, and shoved him, still naked, in the oven and held the door shut.
He let the boy climb out several minutes later but locked him out of the house.
The boy’s sister finally convinced Moss to let him back in, but Moss told him to sit naked on the floor "like a dog" until his mother came home to put clothes on him and take him to a hospital, said prosecutors.
"We made what we believed was a very persuasive sentence recommendation to the court that significant jail time was appropriate considering the harm that was inflicted upon this child at the hands of his own father," Donovan said today in a statement. "Ultimately, sentencing is in the purview of the court and the judge in this case imposed a sentence which he believed was right, considering everything that was before him."
Erin Moss, Christopher’s mother and Moss’ wife, left court without comment.
But she also pleaded for leniency today.
"I’m not excusing his actions ... [and] my marriage is questionable, but he will always be [our children’s] father," she told the judge. "The one thing I’ve learned from my son is forgiveness. If not for my son’s forgiving heart, I wouldn’t be here before you."
She said her husband of 24 years, is a "hard-working ... dedicated man," and was actively involved in raising their children. He took on a "Mr. Mom" role so she could earn a nursing degree, she said.
Mrs. Moss said her husband had apparently "snapped" when he assaulted their son.
"I was looking at a man I didn’t even recognize and was horrified," she said.
The bespectacled Moss, who wore a green short-sleeve shirt and dark trousers, briefly addressed the court.
"My son is a better man than me," he said, hitting one hand against the palm of the other. "I’m very sorry for what I did."
The emotional 30-minute proceeding ended just as it began — with a boy in tears.
Christopher cried as court officers handcuffed his father before leading him to a holding cell. Moss was to be taken for processing prior to serving his sentence.