Plea bargain spares child from testifying
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
July 28, 2011 · 9:22 AM
Emotions boiled over into outrage during a Friday afternoon sentencing hearing for a self-proclaimed spiritual healer who molested a 6-year-old child on South Whidbey.
“When my daughter told me what was done to her, my heart fell to the floor,” the victim’s mother told the judge as she sobbed. “I was sick. I was shocked. I was afraid and I was trembling.”
She described her daughter as a “beautiful and innocent child” who’s so sweet and forgiving she feels guilty about getting “Uncle Mike” in trouble.
South Whidbey resident Michael Angelo, also known as Michael Webb, pleaded guilty earlier this month in Island County Superior Court to two counts of conspiracy to commit child molestation in the first degree.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme explained that Angelo, 45, had to admit to actually committing the molestation under the terms of the plea bargain. He said the plea bargain was worked out in order to spare the child from having to take the stand at trial; Angelo was originally charged with first-degree child molestation.
Yet Angelo will serve significant time in prison, followed by a lengthy term of community custody and mandatory sex offender treatment. The little girl’s parents agreed with the plea bargain. Ohme and the defense attorney gave a joint recommendation of just over five and a half years in prison. Judge Alan Hancock agreed and handed down the sentence.
“I hopes this will provide Mr. Angelo with the chance to contemplate his life and the misdeeds he has done,” Hancock said.
Angelo apologized but stared straight ahead during the entire hearing.
“I’m very sad and very sorry for what I have done,” he repeated twice.
But as Angelo’s attorney pointed out, the apology did nothing to quell of the rage in the courtroom. People groaned when he apologized and applauded when Hancock gave him the maximum sentence.
Christopher Brooks, a friend of the victim’s family, gave a fiery speech that slipped into angry, poetic phrases describing Angelo as a dangerous predator who darkens any doorway he stands in. He depicted Angelo as a charlatan who feigned being a Native American spiritual healer, shaman, elder and sun dancer, but preyed on children at every turn. He warned him never to return.
“You are done here on Whidbey Island,” he said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.