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Salisbury man gets 40 years to life for abusing his family

SALEM, Mass. (AP) -- A Salisbury man was convicted Friday of sexually abusing his daughters and terrorizing his family at a hidden compound surrounded by an eight-foot double fence.

Patrick S. McMullen, 41, was sentenced to 40 years to life on charges of child rape, a spokesman for the Essex District Attorney's office said. The jury in Salem Superior Court convicted him of multiple charges, including child rape and indecent assault.

Prosecutors said McMullen terrorized his wife and children, keeping them confined for years to a commercial property on Route 1 with dark cloth covering the windows. The three boys and three girls were not allowed to venture beyond the fence, even to attend school, and investigators said the family was sometimes locked inside for months.

His oldest daughter, now 21, testified that McMullen raped her repeatedly between 1995 and 2001 and that some of the attacks were witnessed by her brothers and sisters.

His wife, Christine McMullen, testified that she was severely beaten during their 17-year marriage. In May 2001, she gathered her children and fled. The family's plight was finally revealed when she applied for a restraining order a week later.

Patrick McMullen was initially charged with raping the oldest daughter, but more charges were filed in 2002 after the investigation revealed his other two daughters had also been sexually assaulted.

On five counts of rape of a child, McMullen was sentenced to life in prison. On another four counts of rape of a child and a count of assault with intent to rape, he was sentenced to 40-to-60 years. All the sentences were concurrent.

He received shorter, concurrent sentences on charges of indecent assault and battery of a child under 14, assault and battery and possession of an electric stun gun.

"What I am imposing is a sentence of 40 years to life," Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead said.

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