ACCOMACK, Co., Va. (Delmarva Now) -- A woman who allowed her husband to have sexual relations with her daughter from the time she was at least 11 years old pleaded guilty in Accomack County Circuit Court Dec. 14 to accessory after the fact of rape and indecent liberties with a child.
She also pleaded guilty to child endangerment. Ruth Ann Carpenter, 61, was initially indicted on more serious charges.
Carpenter was married to Khalil Muslimani, who earlier in the week was found guilty of the rape of his stepdaughter, Stacey Ann Spione.
The victim wanted her name used in connection with the case.
A jury recommended a life sentence in that case on the rape charge and the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine on a second charge of taking indecent liberties with a child under 14.
Muslimani was previously sentenced to two life terms plus 20 years for sexual crimes against another family member.
Carpenter knew her husband was the father when her daughter became pregnant when she was only 11 years old, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan.
That pregnancy ended with an abortion, but the child became pregnant again the following year. This time, she bore Muslimani’s child.
While pregnant, Spione was made to wear heavy, baggy clothing that hid her condition. Meanwhile, the defendant wore a pillow to make it appear she was pregnant so her child’s condition would not be publicly revealed, Morgan said.
Evidence presented during Muslimani’s trial was that Spione went on to bear her stepfather three more children. Carpenter, who arrived at the courtroom in a wheelchair has numerous physical problems, said defense attorney Garrett Dunham.
He said she suffered from diabetes, kidney failure, depression and might lose a leg because of an infection.
“She is not suitable for a jail environment,” he said. Dunham said his client had “a difficult history.” Her mother died when she was 12, she never went past ninth grade in school and her father raped and abused her. He compared Muslimani’s pattern of emotional and physical abuse to brainwashing.
“She was totally outmatched and scared,” he said.
The commonwealth apparently agreed, amending two of the original indictments to accessory after the fact. Morgan described the situation as “a bizarre and unfortunate set of circumstances.” He said Carpenter had some culpability.
“She could have taken steps,” he said.
Morgan recommended the defendant receive a sentence with all time suspended and be released on time served.
“I don’t know how we can fully understand how the things that occurred in this family were allowed to occur,” said Judge W. Revell Lewis III.
The commonwealth has had an opportunity to speak with her about what happened at 31 years ago.
The commonwealth indicated that she was subject to abuse.
“With all these things in mind, I am inclined to go along with the Commonwealth’s recommendation,” the judge said.
Addressing the defendant, he said, “While I have a hard time understanding how you allowed this to go on, I know there are situations people get in and don’t have the tools to handle.”
He sentenced her to 12 months each on the first two charges, now misdemeanors, and 10 years on felony child endangerment. He suspended all the time but the time she served when arrested.