A California businessman accused of raping a 5-year-old girl doesn't have to spend a day behind bars — or register as a sex offender.
Lyle Burgess, a 79-year-old from Stockton, pleaded no contest Wednesday to felony statutory rape of the young child as a part of a negotiated plea deal, according to The Stockton Record. He now faces 90 days of house arrest or an alternative-work program and informal probation for five years.
Ken Meleyco, the attorney for the girl's family, told Fox40 that "future victims are not protected" after the punishment was handed down to Burgess, who founded an automotive parts manufacturer called Rare Parts Inc. in 1981.
"He's obviously very wealthy," the attorney said, "and it's just an example of how the wealthy people, time and time again, escape the penalty for what they did."
But a defense attorney argued that Burgess maintains his innocence. Gregory Davenport gave The Stockton Record a potential motive for the accusations against his client.
"I believe the allegations are motivated by greed," he said. "They are using this instance to try to gain financially.”
The girl's parents have filed a civil lawsuit against Burgess, Fox 40 reported.
The rape occurred in 2016, Meleyco alleged, when Burgess — who the family trusted as "a family friend" — invited the girl and her family to his cabin in Calaveras County. The attorney told Fox40 that the now-7-year-old has suffered from the alleged abuse.
"The girl is not doing good," he said. "She's showing all the symptoms of somebody who's been molested. She's in counseling, and she's gonna be in counseling all her life."
The girl's mother, whom McClatchy is not naming, argued in court that Burgess has "continuously" hurt her child, The Stockton Record wrote. She lamented that he was "getting off so easy" — but judge Ron Northup said when it comes to a negotiated plea, the “courts are somewhat limited."