A 46-year-old Lawrence man was sentenced to 41 months in prison Friday after being found guilty of one count each of attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and indecent liberties with a child.
Fred Eugene Patterson III was accused of engaging in lewd fondling or touching of two children, now ages 12 and 14, between May 2010 and Feb. 8 of this year. Patterson was arrested in February, and originally charged with three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and one count of indecent liberties with a child.
In Douglas County District Court on Friday, state-licensed psychologist Jean Dirks testified that Patterson's ability to understand the consequences of his actions was impaired by a developmental disability. The Bert Nash psychologist had interviewed Patterson several times over the past decade, and said he had the mental capabilities of a 7-year-old, with an IQ of 63.
"He doesn't seem that way to the layperson," she said. "His speech, gait, and his handle on common sense kinds of things seems normal."
The reason, she said, was that Patterson had been fairly normal as a juvenile, until a case of pneumonia put him in a coma for weeks. After that, she said, his brain development had been severely impaired, and he has been on state disability since.
Both the defense and the prosecution made arguments based on that evidence.
Patterson's attorney, John Gilroy, asked District Court Judge Paula Martin to depart from state sentencing guidelines that required a prison sentence for those charges and instead sentence his client to probation. With his disabilities, Gilroy said, Patterson was "a poor candidate for prison, where he will be a target for abuse."
Prosecutor Amy McGowan, a chief assistant district attorney, agreed but said his inability to understand consequences and his impulsive behavior also made him a poor candidate for probation.
In imposing the 41-month sentence, Martin cited those arguments and the high risk that Patterson, if free, would contact the victims of his crimes again.