A city man convicted of 26 counts in a horrific child-molestation case was sentenced this morning to spend the rest of his life in state prison.
Harold Vandebogart, 32, was sent away for 75 years to life in prison. The sentence means he would be 106 years old before he ever sees a parole board.
In sentencing Vandebogart, acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino responded to Vandebogart’s comments about the trial and apparent continuing denials.
Giardino also recounted the horrifying stack of evidence in the case, from text messages to photos to testimony.
“To pile on you doesn’t serve any purpose,” Giardino told Vandebogart related to comments from the court. “But I find your acts vile. I find your lack of remorse, lack of taking responsibility, disturbing and eye-opening.”
The judge then expressed his ongoing concern for the victims, age 3 and 12 at the time of the acts, that they can get the counseling that they need.
The judge then imposed sentence.
Earlier in the proceedings, the mother of one of the victims briefly addressed the court, expressing the difficulties her family has gone through. “It’s been really hard on us, it’s just been really hard,” she said.
In a quiet voice, the woman also expressed her hope that Vandebogart never gets out of prison.
As Giardino imposed sentence, the family appeared relieved, wiping tears from their faces.
Vandebogart was convicted in November on three top-level counts of predatory sexual assault against a child — two related to accusations related to a 12 year old girl, one a girl who was just 3.
Each of the three counts carried maximum sentences of 25 years to life in prison.
Prosecutor Jessica Lorusso argued for the maximum on each and that they run consecutively.
Vandebogart was represented by attorney Kent Gebert. Gebert argued for concurrent time, saying the maximum allowed would mean Vandebogart would have no chance at rehabilitation.
After the November verdict, Gebert called the evidence against his client overwhelming.
Included in that evidence were photos, clothing, text messages and letters, all of which prosecutors said pointed to Vandebogart ‘s guilt.
The jury found, after deliberating for hardly 35 minutes, it was Vandebogart who abused the two girls, taking photos of the sexual abuse of the younger one.
In a bizarre series of events, he then text-messaged the photos to a woman who turned them over to police and helped them build their case, authorities said.
Giardino commended the woman for coming forward.
Vandebogart himself addressed the court. Much of his statement centered around the trial and the “grave injustice” that resulted.
“This conviction was based on flimsy, circumstantial evidence and hearsay,” Vandebogart said.
As he spoke, though, Vandebogart did not appear to explicitly proclaim his innocence or deny involvement.
Vandebogart read much of his statement, starting out by saying he wasn’t the best reader.
In the statement, he also accused his court-appointed attorney, Gebert, of failing to give him a proper defense. At the same time, though, he turned to his attorney to help him read a word from his written statement.
Vandebogart even compared his trial to something out of “Nazi Germany.”
In response to that statement, Giardino, when time came to impose sentence, corrected Vandebogart’s historical perspective, calling Vandebogart’s comments “off base,” noting there was an entire legal proceeding, he got an attorney and a trial, something that wouldn’t have happened in Nazi Germany.
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