Dad Sentenced to 75 Years for Sexually Assaulting Daughter After Child Dies In Arson Fire

A father was sentenced to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing his daughter. The 12-year-old perished in a house fire with her 16-year-old cousin in May after her father was accused. One stepbrother was also accused of sexually abusing the young girl, and another stepbrother was charged with arson and attempted murder in connection with the fire.

James Exline of Iowa was convicted of second- and third-degree sexual abuse of his own daughter, Melanie ‘Paige’ Exline. He was sentenced for a total of 75 years, and the 47-year-old won't be eligible for parole until the year 2082. If he does survive to the age of 111 and gets paroled, he would have to register as a sex offender.

District Court Judge James Drew called James 'extremely dangerous' during the sentencing.

According to court reports, Noah had been sexually abusing Paige first. When his father found out, he put a stop to it, but then James began molesting Paige. At some point the abuse came out, and Paige's grandmother, 74-year-old Shirley Exline, was named the girl's guardian in March of 2017.

In August of 2017, James was arrested for sexually abusing Paige. Noah had previously confessed and was facing seven counts of sexual abuse.

Shirley was attempting to get full custody of Paige and the young girl was slated to testify in family court that month. Four days before the hearing, a terrible fire broke out in Shirley's home. Shirley, Paige, Paige's cousin, 16-year-old Shakiah Cockerham and William Long III, Paige's 54-year-old uncle, were all in the house.

Shirley recalls finding her granddaughters and attempting to escape with them. She says she was clinging to Paige and Shakiah as the three tried to exit the house, but then there was a terrible explosion. Shirley was thrown clear into the yard and survived, but both girls perished in the fire.

Long was also injured in the fire, but he managed to get out.

Days after Paige's tragic death, another stepbrother, 26-year-old Ryan Thompson, was under investigation by the police. He was suspected of being behind the fire that killed the two young girls and injured the older adults. Authorities believe he was attempting to stop Paige from testifying against his father and brother.

Thompson has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson. His trial is slated to begin in September.

After two mistrials, James was finally convicted and sentenced. Noah’s trial is still pending.

Assistant Greene County Attorney Thomas Laehn is extremely pleased with the outcome of James Exline’s sentence. He says it is important for not only victims of sex crimes and their loved ones, but for the entire community to see that justice prevailed.

“Whether they had children who went to the same school, whether they went to the same grocery stores, the same churches, whatever the case may be, I think the whole community was affected by this case. So to have the opportunity for anyone in Greene County to come and observe the sentence being imposed, I think it’s an opportunity for healing both for those directly affected and those indirectly affected in our community,” he said in a statement.

Source: DailyMail
Photos: DailyMail Screenshot

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