The former New London school bus driver will spend seven years in state prison.
The 71-year-old Delton Gorges stood before Judge Philip Kirk Monday for sentencing.
He had been convicted in January of felony sexual assault of a child, repeated sexual assault of a child and two misdemeanor counts of sexual assault. A felony charge of sexual assault of a student by school staff was dismissed but read into the court record.
Prior to sentencing, relatives of Gorges’ victims described how his behavior had continued for over two decades and impacted multiple generations.
“How can I even put in words what has been done to my family,” said a woman whose son and grandson were both molested by Gorges. “He cheated on his wife, not with other women, but with young boys.”
The woman accused Gorges of telling other family members that the boys were at fault.
“No child wants to be molested,” she said.
She added that while many in the community knew Gorges as a hard worker who helped others, gave to charities and went to church, his victims saw Gorges as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Another woman described her feelings of guilt because she had trusted Gorges with her grandson.
She explained how one day she had seen her young grandson in a car with Gorges. She stopped and asked Gorges where they were doing. He said he needed the boy’s help in moving some heavy items to the landfill.
She felt something was wrong, but allowed the boy to stay with Gorges. She later learned that he sexually assaulted the boy at the landfill.
Another victim’s mother said her son’s “hopes and dreams have been replaced by self-destruction and despair.”
“Justice needs to be served,” the anguished mother said. “I’m asking that no mercy be shown to this monster.”
Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider served as the special prosecutor on this case. She said Gorges used his position within the family and as a school bus driver to groom and manipulate young men.
“He chose victims who were vulnerable,” Schneider said, noting that one victim was autistic while another had cerebral palsy.
She said Gorges’ abuse had been ongoing for several decades, involved multiple generations of victims and continued up until he was confronted by law enforcement a year ago.
“Prison is the only place where we know our community will be safe,” Schneider said.
Tom Johnson, the defense counsel, asked Kirk to look forward, rather than backward when sentencing Gorges.
Johnson noted that Gorges had been in counseling, had confessed to his crimes, cooperated with law enforcement, spared the victims from having to testify at a jury trial and was unlikely to re-offend.
“These are serious offenses, but they are not crimes of violence,” Johnson said.
Johnson also pointed to Gorges’ community service as positive sign of his character.
“When somebody does something wrong, does every good thing they did become sinister?” Johnson asked. “I think there are genuinely good things that this defendant did.”
Johnson concluded by saying that Gorges’ redemption would not be through retribution but through compassion.
“We need to move toward healing the wounds,” Johnson said. “The goal should be for all parties to move forward, beyond the hurt and anger.”
In announcing the sentence, Kirk said Gorges’ homosexuality and society’s condemnation of it was a contributing factor in his criminal behavior.
“I think you’re one of the victims, as well,” Kirk said. “You’re a victim of a society that has made you lead a life that is a lie all these years.”
Kirk said that when Gorges was a young man, he would not have been able to “come out of the closet.
“The sentence is not a punishment for your sexual orientation, it’s a punishment for a violation of the law,” Kirk said.
After noting that no amount of prison would undo the victims’ suffering as a consequence of Gorges’ behavior, Kirk said Gorges, who turns 72 on May 22, was basically being sentenced for life.
In addition to seven years in state prison, Gorges will be on extended supervision for another 15 years. Kirk ordered Gorges to register as a sex offender and pay for any counseling or treatments required by the victims.