A city man who exposed himself to two random children at a city store and had been accused of trying to sexually abuse them expressed remorse for his actions in court Friday.
Matthew F. Swain, 44, formerly of Thompson Street, told a Schenectady County Court judge that he has grown more religious in the time since the incident and he has sought religious counseling since to eradicate the part of himself that took him there.
“I saw that it was such a heinous thing,” Swain told Judge Karen Drago of his actions and how he got to that point.
“I have prayed for them,” Swain added a short time later, referring to the two children, “that my actions wouldn’t bear any significant problem for them in their life.”
Swain pleaded guilty in March to one felony count of possession of a sexual performance by a child, along with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of stalking.
The deal resulted in a prison term of one to three years in state prison. He had faced up to 25 years to life in state prison, had he been convicted on the charges on which he was originally indicted.
Swain was arrested in May 2010, days after authorities said he exposed himself to children at the store on Broadway. He was accused of attempting to get the children to perform a sex act in the April 29, 2010, incident.
Swain was taken into custody after police released a surveillance photo of the suspect. The photo was aired by local media and information provided by the public as a result was instrumental in Swain ‘s arrest, police said.
Swain had been indicted on multiple counts, including two top-level counts of attempted predatory sexual assault against a child. Each count carried a maximum of 25 years to life in state prison, had Swain been convicted at a trial.
The deal, however, came as a result of problems with the proof in the case, prosecutor Jessica Lorusso told Drago at the March plea.
The top counts relied heavily on the testimony of a 5-year-old victim, Lorusso has said. The deal was offered to prevent both children from being further traumatized by going to trial, she said.
Prosecutors had enough to support the misdemeanor endangering counts through a video surveillance system, Lorusso said. But making the jump to the top-level felony required the older victim to testify.
In her comments Friday, Lorusso referenced a presentence investigation report that appeared to indicate Swain had not shown remorse for his actions.
She referenced the two young victims who went running to their mother after the encounter with Swain. She also referenced the stalking count: He admitted to following a woman and her two young children around the Wal-Mart on Altamont Avenue the same day he exposed himself to the two other children.
The child pornography charge, which carries the one-to-three-year sentence, relates to at least one image found on his Blackberry, Lorusso has said.
“These are very disturbing allegations he’s pleaded guilty to,” Lorusso told the court.
Swain’s attorney Sven Paul stressed to the court that his client was remorseful. Paul’s comments were followed by Swain’s direct expression of remorse.
“He’s praying every day that he will be repaired and that this will not happen again,” Paul told the court.
Drago told Swain that counseling was crucial for him to remain out of prison when he gets released. If he doesn’t, she guessed that he would wind up returning to state prison.
“This behavior just will not be tolerated,” Drago told Swain.
When Swain gets out, he is to register as a sex offender. A hearing is to be held at that time to determine his risk level.
At the conclusion of his own comments, Swain told the court he did intend to do what was needed.
“I am just … I can’t believe I would do something to someone so young and so innocent,” Swain told the court. “It’s something that I will work with for the rest of my life, as hard as I possibly can, to fix.”