Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

September 28, 2012

City man gets four years for sex abuse

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — There were a few words used Thursday in an attempt to describe Robert J. Sawmiller and his actions.

The mother of his victims offered a few words, such as monster and Decepticon, referring to the villainous race of shapeshifting robots from the popular Transformers series.

Sawmiller himself, remorsefully, tried to use the word "sorry."

In the end, New York State Supreme Court Judge Richard C. Kloch used a word to describe Sawmiller's sentence.

"Justice," Kloch said. "That dictates it and nothing else."

Sawmiller was sentenced to four years in state prison and 10 years of post-release supervision for attempted first-degree sexual abuse, an E felony. He also faces 14-year order of protection barring him from contact with the victims and will have to register as a sex offender. He pleaded guilty to the sex abuse charge on June 13.

Sawmiller, 38, Independence Drive, was arrested in March following an incident reported to Lockport City Police and New York State Police by the mother of the victims. The 3-year-old victim told the mother she was inappropriately touched by Sawmiller with an 8-year-old boy in the room at the time of the abuse, the state police arrest report said. Sawmiller had been originally charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, class D felonies, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, class A misdemeanors.

The mother spoke in court prior to the sentencing, saying Sawmiller's actions have had a long and terrible effect on her children. The entire ordeal has darkened the day, everyday, she said. The family was hit with a nuclear explosion, she added.

Some of the worst is when something triggers a memory in their minds, the woman said. That usually leads to some sort of behavior, usually rooted in fear. And worse yet, the parents are still finding out more about Sawmiller's actions.

"Not knowing what's next is hardest," the mother said. "What horrors we'll uncover."

Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello blasted a "ridiculous" report that said Sawmiller's sexual frustrations from his marriage are what led to his actions. To put any blame on his wife was appalling and heartless, Donatello said. 

"These reports don't take into account what you just saw (the mother speaking)," Donatello said.

Sawmiller apologized for his "horrible mistake," saying he needed professional help. 

"I failed you," he said to the family of the victims.

Kloch called Sawmiller's actions, despicable and deviant. He offered sympathy to the family of the victims.

"Decepticons always lose," the judge said.

• In other court news, a city woman was sentenced to a year in Niagara County Jail for assaulting a man with a knife in June.

Joyce A. Schwarz, 30, East Avenue, was sentenced Thursday by Judge Sara S. Farkas for attempted second-degree assault, a class E felony. She pleaded guilty to the reduced charge in July.

According to a Lockport city police report, Schwarz cut the victim with a silver knife during an altercation on June 24. 

Schwarz was screened for mental health court treatment, since she had told the judge in July she has been dealing with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders for some time without medication.

Schwarz was to be appropriate for the court, but attorney Michael Benedict said Schwarz would be better off serving a sentence then moving to Erie County where her family is. It would serve as a better support system for her, he said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.