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Severn man sentenced to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing child

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Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 13:15:52-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Severn man was sentenced to 60 years for sex abuse abuse of a minor and four counts of rape.

James Robert IV, 38, was found guilty of the charges by a jury on November 7.

"This sentence sends a profound message that we will hold accountable sexual offenders who prey upon the most vulnerable members of our community," said Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess. "I would like to thank Caring Canines for providing the animals who played an important role in the healing process. The addition of the comfort dog provided the young victim with a level of support that allowed her to speak about the heinous abuse she experienced and hold her abuser accountable. I hope the outcome provides her with a sense of solace as she continues to heal."

On November 15, 2018, the Anne Arundel County Police Department responded to the 1700 block of Carriage Court to conduct a well-being check after receiving a tip from a sexual assault tip line. The tip stated that Robert had raped the survivor.

Five days later, the Anne Arundel County Police Department and the Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services interviewed the survivor who revealed that Robert raped her on four separate occasions and threatened to kill her.

During one incident, she stated that he choked her and only stopped after she told him she was unable to breathe. During the trial, the survivor testified with the aid of a comfort dog from Caring Canines. The dog and handler were trained and certified through PetPartners.org to provide interventions and emotional support for victims of trauma.

In 2018, Anne Arundel County and Harford County Circuit Courts became part of a pilot program allowing the use of comfort animals in the courthouse.

The program was launched with the support of Administrative Judge Laura Ripken, who considers written requests made on behalf of children who appear in either civil or criminal proceedings.