By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
Editor’s note: Freedom Newspapers has opted to withhold some names from this report in an effort to protect the victim’s identity.
A Clovis man on Wednesday was sentenced to 33 years in prison for sex acts committed against an 8-year-old girl.
Prosecutors allege Derrick Vincent Ervin, 27, married the girl’s mother so that he could have opportunity to molest the child.
A jury in January found Ervin guilty of 31 counts of various sex crimes. He faced a maximum sentence of 168 years in prison.
Prosecutors and family members of the victim argued on Wednesday to put Ervin away for the “rest of his natural life.”
Addressing the judge, the victim’s grandmother said, “This is your opportunity to help show a little girl that we value her innocence, to help her to feel free and safe from the ‘flesh and blood’ monsters.”
However, Judge Teddy Hartley said the crimes committed didn’t warrant that harsh a sentence.
“I don’t believe the crime is serious enough for the rest of his natural life, (but) it is serious enough” for a sentence of many years, Hartley said.
Ervin received 18 years for the criminal sexual penetration of a minor charge, a first-degree felony, and 15 years for five counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor. Sentences for the rest of the charges will run concurrently and will not affect the total number of years he will spend in prison.
District Attorney Matt Chandler said Ervin must serve 85 percent of his sentence (about 28 years) before he will be eligible for parole.
Prosecutors say Ervin met his wife via the Internet while serving in the U.S. Navy in Japan. He returned to town in 2002 and married the woman, who had a young daughter. Prosecutors contend he married the woman just to get to the daughter.
According to a press release from the district attorney, in December of 2003 Clovis police received a call from the defendant’s wife, indicating she had located numerous photos of her daughter on Ervin’s computer. Detectives recovered compact discs containing videos of child pornography and other child pornography, the release said.
The victim revealed that Ervin had sexually assaulted her on numerous occasions, the release said.
However, Ervin’s family contested those facts.
“To me, it’s an injustice completely,” said David Ervin, father of the convicted man.
He said his son never molested the young girl. In court Wednesday, family members and friends spoke about Derrick Ervin as a “very compassionate person,” and an “outstanding member of the Navy,” adding that he received two commendations while serving.
“(The sentence) rips us up,” David Ervin said. “That’s my baby.”
Additionally, they said the young girl never mentioned anything about being molested for a year after the crimes were alleged, evidence they said was withheld from the trial.
But grandparents of the victim said that proves nothing.
“That’s the normal reaction for a child (not to talk about it),” said the victim’s grandmother.
Prosecutors alluded to evidence and testimony presented during the January trial they say proves Derrick Ervin’s guilt. Deputy District Attorney Donna Mowrer said Ervin admitted he was addicted to child porn.
“This is a classic case of a pedophile taking the most precious gift — an innocent, defenseless female child — and getting his thrills off her,” Chandler said before the court. “That’s disgusting. That’s sick.”
Prosecutors said the crimes occurred over the course of about 18 months, and the victim was 9 when it ended.
Family members of the victims say healing will be difficult.
“It will never be over for the family and the child,” the grandmother said. “(My granddaughter) will always suffer.”
Ervin will receive credit for about 500 days of presentence confinement for time spent in prison since his arrest.