Two child sex predators received long prison sentences Friday in separate cases in Erie and Niagara counties.
Robert W. Pavlisin Jr., of Wheatfield, “should never see the light of day” after raping two girls, said Niagara County First Assistant District Attorney Holly E. Sloma, before County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III sentenced him to 40 years in prison.
“He is a predator,” said Sloma, who described how Pavlisin, 45, started relationships with adult women in his victims’ families, only to gain access to the girls.
“I agree with Ms. Sloma’s analysis,” Murphy said in court. “I agree with her observation that you’re a sexual predator.”
In Erie County, a judge said he had two hopes as he prepared to sentence Michael P. Milton, 41, 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,” Acting Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia told Milton.
Buscaglia sentenced Milton 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.
Pavlisin, of Sy Road, pleaded guilty Oct. 12 to first-degree rape of an 11-year-old girl in 2002, and to second-degree rape, use of a child in a sexual performance and second-degree kidnapping for victimizing a 13-year-old girl early in 2016. He also admitted to obstructing governmental administration for an hour-long armed standoff with police at a storage building on New Road in Niagara Falls on April 22.
The victim of the 2002 rape didn’t report it to police until she saw news reports about the standoff, in which Niagara Falls police sought to arrest Pavlisin for raping the 13-year-old.
Sloma said that in the earlier case, Pavlisin had a relationship going with the girl’s mother. In the 2016 case, he had started a relationship with the victim’s grandmother.
“That was just a front,” Sloma charged. “He was there to be around these young girls and victimize them.”
In the 2016 case, Pavlisin pleaded guilty to taking cellphone videos of sex acts with the girl in the back of a vehicle. Sloma said Pavlisin did that “so he could watch himself repeatedly rape and sodomize this 13-year-old girl.
"I don’t see any redeeming qualities about this man, not one," she said.
In a pre-sentencing interview with a probation officer, Pavlisin denied committing any crime against the 2002 victim and accused the more recent victim of “coming on to him,” according to the prosecutor.
Defense attorney Jenelle Messer disputed Sloma’s claim that Pavlisin was trying to evade responsibility.
“He pled guilty. I don’t know what more responsibility a person can take,” Messer said. “At no time has he ever said to me this was anyone’s fault but his.”
“I do take responsibility, full responsibility. I’m sorry that it happened,” Pavlisin said. “I apologize to the victims’ family and my family for letting everybody down.”
The victims were not in the courtroom Friday.
In Milton's case, a jury convicted him in January of the sexual assault charges, plus two charges of rape and one count of a 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.
The abuse occurred at different times when each was placed in Milton’s care by people who trusted him, according to the girl’s testimony. To keep his conduct secret, Milton either bribed the children, threatened them or convinced them that they would get in trouble if they told.
The abuse 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.
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 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. When given the chance to speak at his sentencing, Milton gave an ambiguous response.
“I’m going to get the help I need – whatever that may be,” he said.
In addition to the double sentences of 25 to life, Buscaglia issued orders of protection for both victims 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.