LOCKPORT — Their victim courageously confronted Robert and Elizabeth Wood inside a Niagara County courtroom.
She told Robert Wood she "hated" him. She reminded Elizabeth Wood that she was "supposed to be a mom and protect me."
Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, who took over the case from retired County Court Judge Sara Sheldon, agreed with a prosecutor that this was the worst case he'd seen.
And so the judge laid down the law on the Hartland couple, sentencing Robert, 56, to 25 years in prison and 20 years of post release supervision and Elizabeth, 30, to 18 years behind bars and 10 years of post release supervision.
The couple, who had been charged with predatory sexual assault against a child, had pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child in a deal with Niagara County prosecutors. But they took the plea offer only after Assistant District Attorney Lisa Baerhe said she would seek a "superseding indictment," with additional charges, if the Woods declined the deal.
For Robert Wood, the sentence was the maximum possible. Elizabeth Wood had received a sentencing commitment of between 15 to 18 years behind bars.
Murphy chose the high end of that commitment.
Both Woods will have to register as sex offenders as a result of their convictions.
The Woods were accused of repeatedly abusing a girl under the age of 11 between June 2015 and March 2017. They have been jailed since their arrest in December 2018.
In threatening the possible superseding indictment, Baerhe indicated that the charges could involve different victims.
Elizabeth Wood's mother, Melinda Rich, is already serving a 15-year prison sentence for abusing the same victim. Rich, 56, of Middleport, also pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree course of sexual conduct against a child.
In her plea, Rich admitted to engaging in sexual conduct with the victim at least twice between June 2015 and March 2017.
As a condition of her plea, Rich had agreed to to cooperate in the case against her daughter and son-in-law.