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Convicted child abuser sentenced to life in prison

Ray guilty of multiple sex charges, eligible for parole after 30 years

POSTED: May 11, 2013 12:15 a.m.

Christopher Ray

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A Gainesville man received two life in prison sentences Friday afternoon in Hall County Superior Court after he was found guilty by a jury in April on all but one of more than 20 counts in a child sexual abuse trial.

By Georgia sentencing rules, Christopher Thomas Ray, 31, will be eligible for parole after 30 years served.

He was convicted on seven counts of aggravated child molestation, six counts of child molestation, one count of possession of Lorazapam (a tranquilizer) with intent to distribute, one count of attempting to violate the Georgia controlled substances act and 10 counts of sexual exploitation of children.

Ray was found not guilty on one count of enticing a child for indecent purposes, a charge that stemmed from a missing child report in August 2010. The report of the 10-year-old victim missing from his Gwinnett County home launched a search and initiated the investigation into the molestation by law enforcement.

The mother of the victims, in a victim impact statement read by the prosecution, said her family had been “torn apart,” by Ray’s actions.

“He was someone we trusted, someone we called a friend,” she wrote.

During the trial, the state presented testimony from forensic interviewers, law enforcement and two of the victims, now ages 13 and 15.

Represented by Assistant District Attorneys Wanda Vance and Kelley Robertson, the state also presented evidence found on Ray’s computer, including child pornography.

Judge Bonnie Oliver responded to the claims of innocence made by several of Ray’s family members in court.

“I know the defendant’s family is supportive, but the defendant has been found guilty of the allegations,” Oliver said. “Arguing over it is in the past and he must be sentenced.”

Ray’s uncle stood up and said he had “something to say” as court was dismissed, and was quickly subdued.

“It goes without saying that I understand the defendant’s family is not happy,” Oliver said afterward.

During sentencing proceedings, Oliver had described the case as being “extremely bad factually.”

Vance said she didn’t often pursue a life in prison sentence in a child molestation case, but felt the circumstances of the case warranted a sentence more severe than the 25-year minimum sentences automatically imposed on persons convicted of aggravated child molestation, regardless of aggravating factors such as the age of victims or frequency of abuse.

“He was not motived by helping his victims, but using them, and that makes him dangerous,” Vance said.

Ray’s attorney, senior public defender Brett Willis, raised the issue of whether Ray was eligible for lower, pre-2006 mandatory minimums based on prior case law, which Oliver ultimately did not apply.

“I hope you can find some purpose,” were Oliver’s last words to Ray after handing down the sentence. “I’m confident you can.”

If granted parole, Ray will register as a sex offender, per terms of his probation.


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