In the months after her son disclosed that he had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by a man he trusted, the mother said, he had to tell his story repeatedly to people he’d never met.
At the sentencing Friday of Steven Ahders, her son’s abuser, the boy’s mother noted that her 7-year-old had to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
“No 7-year-old should know what an STD is, let alone be tested for it,” the mother told Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago. “He’s just a little boy.”
Ahders, 29, pleaded guilty in September to the high-level felony predatory sexual assault against a child. Ahders admitted to raping the child over 18 months in Schenectady. He had been accused of tying the boy up and blindfolding him during the acts.
Drago sentenced him Friday to the agreed-upon sentence of 20 years to life in state prison.
“It is abundantly clear to this court that a life sentence is appropriate,” Drago said.
She also noted an order of protection that extends for 100 years, not expiring until 2108. “Obviously, you are never to see this child again,” Drago said.
Ahders declined to make a statement to the court.
Ahders was arrested in January. Authorities accused him of abusing the child from 2006 and continuing into 2007. There were also allegations he abused two other children who had stayed overnight with the child.
He abused the boy “in every way imaginable,” prosecutor Michele Schettino told the court.
When contact was finally cut off with the child, the boy became sullen and fearful, the mother said. When she took him to a counselor, he finally revealed the abuse.
The boy today is fearful of men he doesn’t know, Schettino said.
“He’s left a young boy with a nightmare,” Schettino said, “a boy who is an unhappy child, unable to be away from his mother’s side. His world has been forever changed by the acts of Steven Ahders.”
Ahders knew the child after meeting the mother through personal ads two years earlier, prosecutors said previously.
Authorities said Ahders also admitted to taking photographs of the child. Those images were later found on Ahders’ cellphone. Those were also the basis for a federal indictment. He has since pleaded guilty there and is facing a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Ahders previously served federal prison time related to a 2001 conviction for child pornography possession. He admitted then to using his home computer to trade nude images of children and other people and advertised the service in an Internet chat room.