Crime

‘The damage to my grandkids is very extensive.’ Man admits to molesting children.

The grandmother of two victims speaks during sentencing

Melinda Edwards speaks during a sentencing. Her 4-year-old relatives were the victims of a sexual assault by Panteleimon Spirakis who pleaded guilty on Aug. 21.
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Melinda Edwards speaks during a sentencing. Her 4-year-old relatives were the victims of a sexual assault by Panteleimon Spirakis who pleaded guilty on Aug. 21.

As his trial was set to begin, Panteleimon Spirakis pleaded guilty to five charges of sex crimes against children. He’ll serve 20 years behind bars.

“The damage to my grandkids is very extensive,” the victims’ grandmother Melinda Edwards said.

Spirakis pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging a child for sexual performance, two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. He faced up to 120 years in prison.

Judge Larry Hyman sentenced him to 17 years on each of the criminal sexual conduct and engaging a child charges. Those sentences will run at the same time. He will have to serve three additional years on the sexual exploitation charge.

Tuesday was scheduled as the start of the trial against Spirakis on the sex crime against children charges. A jury was selected and co-defendant Lindsey Honeycutt agreed to plead guilty and testify.

Spirakis, Honeycutt, Ambrose Heavener and Anthony Strickland were each charged with several crimes against children. Police say the four sexually exploited a 4-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl by forcing them to have sex with each other and adults. Some of the incidents happened at a strip club where Honeycutt worked.

But, Spirakis’ plea nullified the need for a trial. Edwards called for a lengthy penalty for Spirakis.

“I would like to see this man locked up for the balance of his life so he can not harm other children,” she said.

The state offered no recommendation for the sentence, but assistant solicitor C. Leigh Andrews said Spirakis robbed the victims of innocence “they will never get back.”

Defense Attorney Ralph Wilson Sr. noted that his 57-year-old client faced the possibility of dying in prison no matter the sentence.

“A 10-year sentence is a life sentence to him,” Wilson said.

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