CLEARFIELD – A Westover man will be spending the rest of his life in prison for sexually assaulting two girls.
In September, Moses C. Norris, 78, was found guilty of 24 of the 28 counts against him for molesting the girls over a period of time.
On Tuesday he was back in court to be sentenced by specially presiding Senior Judge Daniel J. Milliron of Blair County.
Milliron noted that a report by William G. Allenbaugh II, who is a member of the state sexual offender assessment board, concluded Norris met the criteria of being a sexually-violent predator.
Norris’ attorney, William A. Shaw Jr., stipulated to the findings in Allenbaugh’s report, leading to the court accepting it without further testimony being required of Allenbaugh.
Deputy District Attorney Trudy Lumadue reviewed the case outlining the incidents related in each of the 24 counts, saying these were separate acts so the charges should not merge for sentencing.
An employee of Passages, a local group providing services to victims of sexual assault, read a written statement by the victim’s father outlining his feelings about the impact of the assaults on his “precious daughters.”
One day the family was “perfectly normal,” then he awoke to learn terrible things had happened to them.
“I’m very protective,” he wrote, adding that he feels he failed his children.
The family is forever changed as the girls suffer from depression, anxiety, have been harming themselves and even thinking about suicide.
“It is heart wrenching.”
He thought it would be over when the trial was done, but it is not. It is always in their minds as they deal with this for the rest of their lives, he wrote.
He said Norris deserved the maximum sentence for what he has done.
The girls’ mother addressed the court stating their lives were changed as the details of the assaults came out.
Even after the trial, the nightmare did not end as “they will never feel normal.”
She went on to say that even though justice has been served, “we are still living this nightmare.” She also asked the judge to give him the maximum sentence.
Shaw mentioned that because he was not the trial attorney, he was waiting on trial transcripts to review the case in more detail.
He argued that the charges on the verdict slip given the jury were not “fairly outlined” and that he believed some of the charges would merge for sentencing.
Shaw asked that the judge consider Norris’ age and that he had no previous record. He stated he advised Norris not to make any comment now, which could be used against him later as the case is appealed.
Norris’ wife spoke for him, reading from a prepared statement saying she “loves him dearly” and that she would never let anyone around children with a questionable character.
He is a gracious, selfless person who would “never do something like this, especially to a child,” she stated.
But when she began criticizing the parents and how they were raising the kids, the judge asked her to stop, saying it was inappropriate.
She then asked the court for leniency for Norris.
Milliron sentenced him to a total of 27 to 54 years in state prison for two counts of rape of a child, three counts of attempted rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, three counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, three counts aggravated indecent assault, six counts of indecent assault child, and six counts of corruption of minors.
Milliron noted he did give less than the recommended sentence of a minimum of 28 years due to his age.
Norris will have to register as a sexually-violent predator with authorities under Megan’s Law for the rest of his life and pay over $7,000 in restitution for the victims’ counseling.
The charges stem from incidents while the first victim was in third or fourth grade. A second victim also reported in early 2021 that he had molested her as well.
According to court documents, the abuse involved oral sex, intercourse and inappropriate touching. The second victim also suffered touching and kissing.
In her closing arguments at the trial, Lumadue explained Norris’ actions as a gradual progression building to rape, according to the victim, which is not necessarily how a child would tell a story they fabricated.
Because of the obvious disbelief of Norris’ family in court regarding the charges, conviction and sentence, Milliron stated that the jury’s verdict “was well supported and I agree with it.”
He added that he has seen cases with less evidence result in convictions.
“You need to examine what has occurred here.”
He stated Norris had “more than a fair trial” and there was additional evidence that was actually kept from the jury. He commended the original defense attorney, Joshua Maines, who “did an excellent job.”
Milliron added that the family would be in his prayers.
Shaw asked for extra time for him to review the trial transcripts before filing an appeal. Milliron agreed and gave Shaw 10 days after receipt of the transcripts to file any reconsideration of sentence motion and 30 days to file a direct appeal to the Superior Court.
District Attorney Ryan Sayers, after court, confirmed this is “in essence a life sentence” for the 78-year-old Norris.
“The jury got it right and justice was served.”
The girls were vindicated he said adding, “God bless them for coming forward and being strong.”
“The system did what it’s supposed to do.”
For more information on the original trial, click here.