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Falls man gets 15 years in prison for impregnating an 11-year-old

LOCKPORT – Jacky R. Berry, 53, of Niagara Avenue in Niagara Falls, was sentenced to 15 years in state prison Friday for fathering a child by an 11-year-old girl.

With 20 years of post-release supervision added, County Judge Sara Sheldon said, “This is in essence a life sentence.”

Berry had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child for his sexual relationship with the girl in 2010. The girl, now 16, gave birth to a son in March 2011, and DNA testing proved Berry was the father.

Berry offered an apology in court, but he had refused to give a presentencing interview to a county probation officer.

“He didn’t feel there was anything to add,” defense attorney James J. Faso Jr. said. “He had a child with this child and he feels terrible that he made her grow faster than she should grow up.”

This is the second time Berry, a Level 3 sex offender, has gone to prison for sexual contact with a young girl.

In 1990, he was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of a 7-year-old girl, and he served about eight years in prison.

In another sex case Friday, Joseph W. Lange, 62, of Niagara Falls, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and 10 years of post-release supervision for incidents involving a girl under age 10 between Christmas 2013 and June 2014.

Lange, whose attorney said he is in ill health, had pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree course of sexual conduct and endangering the welfare of a child.

Assistant Public Defender A. Joseph Catalano pleaded for probation so Lange could obtain psychiatric counseling. “My client does have some issues, or he wouldn’t be here,” Catalano said.

Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco said a probation sentence would be “tantamount to saying it isn’t important.”

Sheldon said, “There’s just a creep factor about this case, and I think a state prison sentence is probably appropriate.” She said Lange could obtain counseling during his post-release supervision.

Asked why he committed the crimes, Lange answered, “I don’t know.” A few moments later he added, “I’m a bad person.”

In another sex case Friday, Benjamin Free, 21, of Elmwood Avenue, Lockport, pleaded not guilty to first-degree course of sexual conduct. He is accused of molesting a City of Lockport girl under the age of 11 between February 2009 and June 2010, starting when Free was 16.

Meanwhile, Clayton J. Kelkenberg, 35, of Redwood Lane, Newfane, who faced life in prison as a sexual predator in a child molestation case, won a plea deal and a guaranteed 10-year probation sentence after the victim lied on the witness stand about another matter involving Kelkenberg.

The former City of Lockport resident pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree course of sexual conduct, and State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. will make the sentence official March 20.

He had been accused of molesting the girl, who was under 13 when the incidents began, between the fall of 2008 and March 2013. However, in another court, the girl testified falsely that she hadn’t met Kelkenberg in the summer of 2013, although they had actually met briefly twice that summer, Zucco said.

Although that didn’t pertain to the molestation, Zucco said it hurt his cause in a trial set for Monday. “We feel it is a relevant factor related to her credibility,” the prosecutor said. “It puts us in a difficult position.”

The plea deal included dismissal of an unrelated felony marijuana possession indictment against Kelkenberg. Zucco said a co-defendant in that case, who has pleaded guilty, “pretty much exonerated him of knowing possession of the drugs.”