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SEXUAL ABUSE OF GIRL, 8, NETS PRISON TERM

A judge today sentenced Kevin Harber to prison for the maximum five to 15 years for his admitted sexual abuse of an 8-year-old Amherst girl.

The judge also rebuked the girl's mother and the photo developing company that had disciplined the employee who uncovered Harber's actions.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph F. Forma imposed the prison term for Harber's guilty plea to first-degree attempted sodomy in a series of sex attacks on the young girl, including forcing her to have sex after he took her to a nudist camp in eastern New York in recent years.

Forma called Harber, 37, of 102 Lawnwood Drive, Amherst, "bizarre."

The judge also said that if CPI photo lab fires David Taylor -- the employee who alerted authorities to Harber's sex photos of the girl -- "all parents of children should boycott" the Town of Tonawanda photo development company.

Following Harber's guilty plea, The Buffalo News disclosed that Taylor's job was in jeopardy because officials said he did not follow company procedures in showing police the photos of the girl. Neither Taylor nor officials of CPI could be reached to comment after the sentencing.

Forma also rebuked the girl's mother for letting Harber take her child to the nudist camp and other places, saying she displayed "a total lack of parental judgment" in her dealings with Harber, a former friend.

Harber had been free since he pleaded guilty Feb. 23 to molesting the girl last fall and taking nude photographs of her.

He told the judge he wanted to apologize to the girl.

Under a plea deal, he admitted he sodomized the girl at her grandmother's house Oct. 30.

In return for the plea, prosecutors dropped a first-degree sodomy charge and sex-abuse and child-endangerment charges lodged against Harber last November, said Diane M. LaVallee, chief of the Erie County district attorney's Sex Crimes Bureau.

Ms. LaVallee said the higher sex charges were dropped because Harber faced a mandatory state prison term ranging from 18 months to 15 years on his guilty plea to attempted sodomy. He also had no criminal record, she said.

Ms. LaVallee said prosecutors agreed to the plea deal to spare the girl the trauma of testifying before a grand jury and at trial. She said the girl's mother agreed to the plea deal.

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