Public Defender Sentenced to 25 Years for Fondling Boys - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Harris County

Public Defender Sentenced to 25 Years for Fondling Boys

Rick Smith, a former public defender and Columbus boy choir supervisor, will spend the next 25-years in prison for fondling young boys. Last month, Smith pled guilty to five counts of child molestation.

Throughout his sentencing, Rick Smith was silent and never showed any emotion, even when the judge said he'd spend the next 25 years behind bars. The sentence brought sobs and tears to both sides of the courtroom.

"It's been hard, my son's been through a lot, and he's still going through it," said Nalani Walton, a victim's mother.

Nalani Walton's son was 13 when Smith molested him and four other boys during a choir trip to Roosevelt State Park in 2005. She and the other victims' families say they can't believe Smith's attorney sought just a five-year-sentence.

"Literally, that's ridiculous. I mean just ridiculous. There's no way. If that man would have walked with five years, I mean, we all would have been just devastated, devastated," said Walton.

Smith's attorney, Stephen Hyles says the judge should have given lesser time, based on Smith's family and professional life. "I had certainly hoped Mr. Smith would get consideration for a long and dedicated career, as a public servant, public defender in our circuit," said Hyles.

Instead the judge sentenced Smith to five years for each child he molested. A punishment that his victims' families say they can live with.

"What the judge came back with, I'm very satisfied. And hopefully this is going to keep this man from doing to keep this man from doing it to anybody else ever again," said Walton.

Rick Smith's sentence includes 15 years probation, after he serves the prison time.

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