TAUNTON -- Child advocates are criticizing a plea deal that allows a former Taunton police officer to stay out of jail and keep his pension despite admitting that he repeatedly molested his adoptive daughter.
Under David Smith's plea agreement, negotiated with prosecutors this month, he was sentenced to pretrial probation for four years, meaning the charge will be dismissed if he stays out of trouble during that period.
That also means he walks away with no criminal conviction and will not have to register as a sex offender, The Enterprise of Brockton reported yesterday. Smith, 58, admitted assaulting the child nearly every night for a year beginning when she was 7, prosecutors said.
''It's an extremely lenient sentence that doesn't serve to protect the community and its children, and it sends the wrong message that people can do this and get away with a slap on the wrist," Janice Pothier-Pac, director of emergency services for rape crisis center New Hope, told the Enterprise.
Smith, a 27-year veteran of the police force, resigned last July after his arrest. He was charged after he told a counselor about the abuse, which started in 2000 after his then-wife moved out.