BARSTOW • “You are not men. You are mice who enjoy hurting young, defenseless children.”
Deputy District Attorney Shannon Faherty read a poignant and, oftentimes, disturbing letter written by a 9-year-old victim before two Barstow men were sentenced for sex crimes committed against the girl Friday.
Steven Spradlin, 28, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for three counts of forcible lewd and lascivious acts with the child.
Steven Lockridge, 19, was sentenced to 18 years in prison also for child rape charges.
The two were credited with 897 days for time served and good behavior.
“How can you call yourself a father?” the victim wrote to Spradlin.
Spradlin had been dating the girl’s mother, who he also had children with, when the reported sexual assaults occurred at the Sands Motel in Barstow during the summer of 2010.
The victim’s letter detailed an agonizing period of which “very bad things” happened to her, including being forced to watch sexually explicit and bizarre pornographic movies, having stuffed animals shoved in her mouth to muffle her screams while sexual acts were committed, being punched in the mouth to the point of blood being spilled and mockingly being told by Spradlin that “it didn’t hurt” and being choked by Spradlin while yawning.
The victim also wrote of a time when she was living in Florida with Spradlin, three siblings and two other girls. Spradlin made the children line up in the bathroom and perform sexual acts with him and each other.
Lockridge was 17 at the time the abuse occurred at the Sands Motel, but was tried as an adult for also forcibly raping the girl.
“How could you go along with this?” the victim wrote to Lockridge.
The girl’s mother reported the incidents from the Sands Motel to Arizona authorities in October 2010 when her daughter told her she had sex with Spradlin, according to Barstow Police Detective Keith Libby. Arizona police then turned the case over to the Barstow Police Department when they learned where the reported crimes occurred.
While the investigation was underway, family members of the girl reported seeing hickeys on her neck while brushing her hair — hickeys she said she had received from Spradlin.
Spradlin hasn’t been charged with molesting any other children. The District Attorney’s office could not charge the victim’s mother with negligence as she falls out of their jurisdiction.
Outside the courtroom, a tearful Mary Spradlin spoke of the sentencings for Lockridge, her son, and Spradlin, her grandson.
“What they said in there tore my heart out,” she said. “They need to do their time. They need help.”
The victim’s letter set forth the perpetual effects caused by Spradlin and Lockridge’s aggressions, noting her little brother will “play invisible so no one can hurt him.”
It also described the lengths Spradlin went to in order to make her fearful and forgetful of the incidents — which included forcing her to drink beer, smoke marijuana and take pills.
Yet, in spite of the horrendous crimes she was subjected to, her letter was strong, eloquent and hopeful, writing that the day of sentencing came as “such a relief” and she was ready to “heal and move on from the damage they’ve caused us.”