A Leavenworth County judge sentenced Lawrence McDonagh II to four life sentences in prison for sexually exploiting several girls in the trailer park where he lived. Defense attorneys argued that his sentence was too harsh.
Leavenworth County attorneys discussed just how McDonagh gained the trust of young girls and their families by buying them gifts like laptops, iPhones and taking them shopping for clothes. Attorneys said he even paid some of their parents' bills.
"This happened to be a case where he was a close friend. People in the community they lived in all trusted him and allowed him to come to their home and they did not have any fear he was doing anything wrong," said Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson.
Attorneys stated how 61-year-old McDonagh, then the manager of the Paradise Mobile Home Park in Tonganoxie, KS, gave the girls the key to his home so they could change into their swim suits and swim in his pool. Then he watched them undressing from a remote location.
When Leavenworth investigators were tipped off about the eavesdropping, they discovered pornographic images of children on his computer. They interviewed several girls and discovered four of them, ranging from ages 10 to 15 years old, had been sexually molested for at least three years.
Leavenworth County attorneys asked for the toughest sentence for McDonagh under legislation passed in 2006 called Jessica's Law.
"It says you can give a life sentence with 25 years for eligibility of parole depending on different circumstances," Thompson said.
Without Jessica's Law, McDonagh would have likely faced 7-10 years for his offenses.
Defense attorney argued McDonagh admitted to touching victims with their clothes on and sexually exploiting them, but said his crimes weren't as bad as some.
"When you have somebody touching somebody inappropriately even though its bad, it's not pulling somebody down and raping them and it's not killing them," Defense attorney Michael Highland said.
"Child sex abuse is one of the worst things that we see besides murder or death because the victims have no defense against this. And this was one of the most expanded ones because of multiple children - it was one of the most serious ones I've seen," Thompson said.
In court McDonagh apologized for his crimes. His lawyers plan to appeal.
There were no victim statements. Only one mother of the victims was in court Thursday and declined to speak.
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