Acting Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia said he had two hopes as he prepared to sentence Michael P. Milton for the repeated sexual assault of two young girls over more than a decade.
“First, that these two children are not scarred for the rest of their lives and that they are able to lead healthy lives. And second, that you are never released from prison,” Buscaglia said.
With that, Buscaglia sentenced Milton, 41, to 25 years to life in prison on each of two counts of predatory sexual assault against a child, to run consecutively. He also ordered the maximum sentences for three other convictions.
A jury convicted Milton in January of the sexual assault charges, plus two charges of rape and one count of criminal sexual act against a child. Both victims testified about the assaults, which began when each girl was about 6 years old.
One victim is now 19; the other is 10 years old. Neither is related to Milton.
According to the girl's testimony, the abuse occurred at different times when each was placed in Milton’s care by people who trusted him. To keep his conduct secret, Milton would either bribe the children, threaten them or convince them that they would get in trouble if they told.
The abuse finally was discovered in 2015 when the mother of the younger victim was looking for photos on Milton’s phone and discovered video that he recorded while forcing the older girl to perform oral sex.
The mother immediately became fearful for her own children and asked her daughter to tell her if anything had happened to her.
The mother testified that, when her own daughter, then 9 years old, revealed what Milton had been doing, she still was in disbelief. She took the child to her own doctor and then to Women & Children’s Hospital, where the mother's worst fears were confirmed.
On Friday, prosecutor Rosanne E. Johnson, chief of the DA’s Special Victims Bureau, described the assaults as “a horrific breach of trust.'
She reminded the judge that Milton never voiced "the slightest bit of responsibility” for his actions.
Johnson praised both girls for their strength in being willing to testify, even though their experiences have left them cautious and mistrustful of people.
"He ruined her childhood," Johnson said of the older girl.
Johnson also told the judge on behalf of the young child of how the assault changed her from a little girl who always was happy to someone who felt depressed, confused and sad.
Defense attorney Robert M. Goldstein acknowledged the inevitability of a harsh sentence but said Milton continues to maintain his innocence of every charge except rape in the third degree for the incident captured on the cell phone recording. Milton previously claimed through his attorney that the contact was consensual sex, although he admitted the victim was underage.
Goldstein said that he will file a notice of appeal, which could be what Milton referred to when he had a chance to speak before sentencing. Milton gave an ambiguous response, saying, “I’m going to get the help I need -- whatever that may be.”
In addition to the double sentences of 25 to life, Buscaglia issued orders of protection for both victim and for the younger child’s mother.
Outside of court after the sentencing, family members, social workers and friends of the victims expressed gratitude for the outcome. Among the group, standing with the 10-year-old, was Argos, the therapy dog who has been at her side throughout the entire case. According to Andrew Skolnick, the dog’s owner, the group planned to celebrate Argos’s 12th birthday.