FARMINGTON — An Auburn man was sentenced Friday to serve three years of a 10-year prison sentence for sexually touching a young girl.
Zachariah Robert Tardif, 24, was ordered to serve six years of probation, to go through sex-offender counseling to his probation officer's satisfaction, to register on the sex-offender registry and to have no contact with children under 18, except his own.
Tardif pleaded guilty to the unlawful sexual contact charge on June 11 in an agreement with the state. Tardif did not agree with all of the state's evidence but sought to avoid a trial.
He was indicted in November 2009.
The incidents occurred between July 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2008, according to the indictment.
The victim said the touching happened more than once; Tardif said it happened only once.
An initial complaint was made by a social worker in September 2007, who reported the victim said Tardif had shown her pornographic material and inappropriately touched her, according to a Wilton police affidavit filed with the court.
The case was closed due to insufficient information.
On Sept. 3, 2009, Wilton police responded to a second report of child sexual abuse against the victim. Wilton police Lt. E. Page Reynolds interviewed the girl, who at the time was between 5 and 9. She told police she was molested by Tardif while she was alone with him, according to the affidavit.
In response to the allegations, Tardif told police last year that while engaged in horseplay, he was tickling her and inappropriately touched her.
The child was seriously affected by what she has gone through, Assistant District Attorney Andrew Robinson told the Franklin County Superior Court on Friday. There was a betrayal of trust, he said.
Tardif has never apologized or taken responsibility, Robinson said.
The state believed three years in prison would be too short, he said, but the victim wanted it to be over and did not want to go through a trial.
The state was willing to accept the sentence because it would give closure to the victim, Robinson said.
Three years in prison was the maximum amount of prison time the state and defense previously agreed upon in the plea agreement.
Witnesses and a friend described Tardif as a supportive, caring father who helped others. One witness said the child was already sexually abused prior to meeting Tardif.
Tardif addressed the court, saying he always followed the rules. He agreed to take the plea agreement to prevent the child from going through a trial and to get his family back together as quickly as possible, he said.
“I am truly sorry for what happened,” Tardif said.
David Sanders, Tardif's attorney, described his client as a family man who supported his family. He said Tardif did not have a record, and was at the lowest risk to be a repeat offender.
He argued for Tardif to serve two years in prison. There is substantial punishment going on, Sanders said. Tardif is going to be on the sex-offender registry for the rest of his life, Sanders said.
Justice Michaela Murphy said she was somewhat reluctant to accept the sentencing cap but wanted to spare the child, who was already suffering the ordeal of going through a trial. She told Tardif he had a right to have the sentence reviewed.