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Judge hands down 20-year prison sentence in sexual abuse case

by DERRICK PERKINS
Daily Inter Lake | July 5, 2022 12:00 AM

A Kalispell man who sexually abused two underage relatives over the course of several years was sentenced to 20 years in the Montana State Prison on July 1.

Larry Edmond Ross, 58, originally faced a charge of sexual intercourse without consent and two counts of sexual assault. Ross, who faces similar charges in Yellowstone County, entered a guilty plea to the latter two counts as part of an agreement with prosecutors struck in March.

In handing down the sentence last week, Judge Heidi Ulbricht gave Ross 10 years for each count of sexual assault to run consecutive to one another. She gave him credit for 239 days already spent behind bars, designated him as a level one sex offender and barred him from contacting his victims.

She added one final requirement, that Ross undergo treatment prior to becoming eligible for parole.

Deputies with the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Ross in August 2021 after the mother of the victims reported learning about the sexual assaults, court documents said. Interviewed by authorities, the two boys accused Ross of beginning his sexual abuse when they were 7 and 8 years old.

The abuse included Ross exposing himself, groping them and engaging in oral sex. He also forced one of the boys to give him oral sex, court documents said.

Court documents put the abuse as having begun in 2015.

In Yellowstone County, Ross faces charges of sexual intercourse without consent and sexual assault. Prosecutors there, according to court documents, plan to seek a 20-year sentence for the latter charge contingent on the deal struck in Flathead County.

Daniel Wood, Ross’ attorney, said sentencing in Yellowstone County was scheduled for July 6.

“LIFE IN prison,” said the victims’ mother when asked on the witness stand what punishment she considered appropriate for Ross.

Through tears, she told the court that her sons had known Ross their whole lives. They trusted him. The revelations of abuse deeply affected the family, she said as Deputy County Attorney Amy Kenison, who prosecuted the case, questioned her.

“It tore us apart,” she said.

She also acknowledged the driving force behind the plea agreement: trying to avoid forcing her children to come face to face with their abuser again. One of the boys — they have different fathers — now lives with his father out of state and is undergoing counseling.

“After all this came out, it was too much for him,” she testified.

The other boy was also with his biological father, who blamed her for failing to protect their child, and “struggling very bad right now.”

“He wants to give up,” she said.

She noted that she was a victim of sexual abuse. According to court documents, authorities also investigated Ross for allegedly abusing her as a child. While the mother omitted details about her past, she choked up as she described her sons dealing with the trauma.

“I’m watching the kids go through the same thing as I did as a child,” she said.

ULBRICHT TOLD the court she was unsure of how she would proceed coming into the courtroom that day. She said she found the words of the boys’ mother compelling.

“The testimony from the mother impacted the court and hopefully impacted you as well,” she told Ross from the bench.

Ulbricht cited the counseling both boys were undergoing and said the abuse had left them to “wrestle with a very adult subject.” They likely would struggle with the pain and mental anguish for the remainder of their lives, she said as she prepared to hand down the sentence.

A bearded and bespectacled Ross, donning an orange inmate’s uniform, sat quietly during the sentencing. He declined to address the court.

News Editor Derrick Perkins can be reached at 758-4430 or dperkins@dailyinterlake.com.

photo

Larry Edmond Ross speaks with defense attorney Daniel Wood in Flathead County District Court during his sentencing on two counts of sexual abuse on June 30, 2022. (Derrick Perkins/Daily Inter Lake)

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