CONYERS - A teenager who inappropriately touched two young boys was ordered to serve 10 years in prison after he entered a plea Friday that he was guilty but mentally ill.
Superior Court Judge David Irwin ordered Christopher Shane Wiley to serve the first 10 years of a 20-year sentence on a charge of child molestation. Wiley was also sentenced to serve 15 years of probation on a second charge stemming from the same offense.
"This is a case that is unfortunate for everyone involved," the judge said. "The truth is, we really don't have a system in place to deal with someone like Mr. Wiley, but the court has a responsibility to protect the public and that is what the court must do."
Wiley was charged as a result of an incident that occurred in October 2006 when he had inappropriate contact with two boys, ages 8 and 6, in the restroom of a local retail business.
Wiley was 17 at the time, but on Friday, defense attorney Steve Purvis cited multiple mental evaluations that indicated his client was functioning on the level of a 6-year-old and had a measurable IQ of 69.
Purvis implored the judge to reduce the prison time and said Wiley was "not a pedophile or predator." Purvis said his client had suffered from a number of incidents that affected his mental development.
"We're not minimizing what he has done, but the fact is the issues involved are beyond his capacity to understand," Purvis said. "This is one of the most egregious cases I've ever had, but in many ways Mr. Wiley is also a victim."
Purvis noted Wiley had exhibited no prior criminal behavior and functioned appropriately when he was under supervision. The incident with the youngsters happened when he went to the restroom with them and there were no adults around.
"In all of my dealings with this young man, he has always been very respectful and well-mannered, but he needs someone to tell him what to and what not to do," Purvis said. "He simply does not have the capacity to consider a situation and handle it appropriately."
The judge agreed with Purvis but said his options were limited.
"I've read all the evaluations, and I think Mr. Purvis is right when he said in many ways Mr. Wiley is also a victim," Irwin said. "The difficulty is that he cannot be left alone, and we have to be mindful of all the other youngsters he could come in contact with. This is a sad situation, but protecting the public must be the first priority."
The judge said that while he does not have the authority to tell the Department of Corrections where to house Wiley, he would urge the agency to place him in a facility where he could receive mental health care.
"The best we can hope for is that he gets some mental health care and close supervision when he is released," Irwin said.
Ric Latarski can be reached at email@example.com.