Vernal Adams

Adams

Two women and their mother told a district judge in court Wednesday about the suffering a man inflicted on their family after he raped the victims for several years.

Vernal Adams, 74, was charged in April after the victims reported the molestation to police. He was sentenced sexual abuse of a minor under 16. A charge of lewd conduct with a minor was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Both victims gave impact statements to District Judge Bruce Pickett at the sentencing. Their mother said she had trusted Adams with her children, and he made a conscious decision to continue to abuse the victims for years despite knowing the suffering he was inflicting. She said she confronted Adams and that he denied the abuse. The mother said she reluctantly believed him, a decision she says she now regrets.

“My decision to trust (Adams) and give him a second chance would turn out to be a complete mistake,” she said. Adams, she said, used his second chance to continue the abuse.

“I’m tired of hearing about how this punishment of being in jail is unfair to (Adams). I’m tired of hearing how his poor decisions and his poor actions have caused him to suffer, and I’m tired of hearing how things will be hard on him in jail or prison, or how his health is not good,” the mother said.

The older victim, now an adult, said the abuse started when she was 8 years old. She said she had blamed herself and her parents, but that she now only blames Adams.

“As far as I’m concerned, he should be treated and have the things done to him that he has done to all of his victims,” the victim said.

The victim said she regrets not exposing Adams’ sex abuse sooner so that the abuse would have stopped with her.

“I wished I would have gone out of my way more and told more people regardless of my embarrassment,” the victim said. “I would have faced everything to protect (my sister). It was my job to do so as her older sister. This should have been my burden to carry.”

The years of abuse had affected her ability to trust others, the victim said. She now avoids certain movies and television shows that trigger flashbacks, and described how watching a rape scene caused her to relive the memories of Adams’ abuse.

“If he wants to consider this one of his sick games he used to play with (my sister) and I, then fine, it is a game,” the older sister said. “And we won.”

The younger victim said she had learned to lie when people ask her about her childhood.

“I can’t say I was molested for all of my grade school years, that I kept secrets from my friends and family every day, spending almost every holiday, vacation, special event, birthday and everything with him is to this day the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” she said.

Like her older sister, the victim said she blamed herself and that she suffered nightmares and flashbacks to the sexual assaults.

“The fact that I stopped the abuse, and not him, this has shown me that he does not deserve any of my forgiveness,” the victim said.

Defense Attorney Douglas Knutson said his client wanted to take responsibility, and that Adams had agreed to be taken into custody before sentencing. The attorney said his client felt remorse despite insistence by the victims that he felt no guilt.

“I would urge the court to refrain from any kind of conclusion that my client is not remorseful,” Knutson said.

Knutson admitted his client had twice failed a polygraph question asking if there were other juvenile victims.

Knutson said Adams was evaluated as a low risk to reoffend because his physical condition had deteriorated with age. Knutson argued that his client was disabled, and could not receive the same level of treatment in prison he would receive outside of jail. He asked for a shorter sentence than the seven-year minimum recommended by the prosecutor.

“We ask that if the court is inclined to impose a fixed prison sentence that it imposed a fixed sentence that is less than that, with the acknowledgment that a seven-year fixed sentence may well be a death sentence for my client,” Knutson said.

Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey said Adams’ acts had caused harm for the entire family. He cited other cases of sexual abuse discovered during the psychosexual evaluation, including that Adams molested another teenage girl 30 years ago and sexually abused animals as a child.

“It’s a pattern of behavior that began much younger in his life and that he has continued into his elderly years,” Dewey said.

Adams apologized to the victims, saying he hoped the victims would be able to move on.

“I know they’ll never forget. They’ll never forgive. But for their sake, I hope they’ll be able to put this in the back of their minds so they’ll have some peace,” Adams said.

Pickett handed down a prison sentence of seven years fixed and 18 years indeterminate. Adams was ordered to pay $1,545.50 in fines and fees.

Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.

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