By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — A Riverdale man convicted of child rape continued to avow his innocence Monday as he was sentenced to 30 years in prison followed by life on probation.
Jerry Lamar, also known by the middle name Darrle, Ruffin, 41, will be 71 when he is eligible for release from prison. Upon his release, Ruffin will spend the rest of his life as a registered sex offender on probation. Ruffin addressed Clayton County Superior Court before Judge Matthew Simmons imposed sentence.
“I feel bad and hate it happened to her,” he said. “Before this, I had a life and had been doing good, been clean off drugs for four years. I got myself together and was doing the right thing by the kids. God gets the last say-so.”
The child’s mother also spoke to Ruffin. She is not being identified to protect her child.
“This ordeal has done nothing but divide our family,” she said. “You’ve torn away at the fabric of my emotions. You took away my child’s innocence and devastated your family. I hope you take the opportunity to ask God for forgiveness and forgive yourself.”
Ruffin’s mother, Florence Martin, and sister, Debra Henry, asked for leniency.
“I know my brother didn’t do anything,” said Henry.
Executive Assistant District Attorney Lalaine Briones wanted Ruffin to serve life plus 120 years.
“This child will have to live with what he did her entire life,” said Briones. “The sentence he should get should span the course of a lifetime.”
Defense attorney Alfonso Kraft blamed alcohol for the rapes of the child, who was 8 and 9.
“If things happened the way witnesses said they did, alcohol could’ve played a role,” said Kraft. “The way I understand it, it happened at one time, it was one act. My client is 41 years old, after 25 years, he’ll be 66. I think that’s an adequate time to fit the crime.”
Simmons noted that the state offered Ruffin 30 years, to serve 15 in prison, to avoid putting the victim through testimony.
“What you’re asking for now is greatly in excess of what you offered before trial,” he said. “The way I understand, it was one incident, one night. The state has made reference to priors but has not charged them.”
In addition to prison time, Simmons ordered that Ruffin undergo sex offender counseling.
Kraft said he plans to file a motion for a new trial.