John Wayne Hinton

John Wayne Hinton of Somerset blamed his “lack of appreciation and yielding to the authority of God and all authority figures” as the core reason he molested at least three young girls.

The 62-year-old East Sanner Street man was sentenced Thursday to a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of 60 years in state prison after pleading guilty in February to abusing the three.

The victims – ages 4, 5 and 8 – are among more than 20 Hinton is accused of sexually abusing over more than two decades.

Prosecutors suspect there are even more victims, Assistant District Attorney Catherine Ann Primavera told Somerset County Judge John M. Cascio on Thursday.

Hinton asked the judge to consider imposing the three 10-year-minimum sentences to run concurrently, making him eligible for parole in 10 years.

But Primavera said the number of victims called for the more severe sentence.

Cascio agreed with the prosecutor, imposing three consecutive sentences of 10 to 20 years each.

“When I look at the background and the circumstances you utilized, that you took advantage of, to make these victims available to you, the consecutive sentences are warranted,” Cascio said.

Hinton admitted he had committed sexual offenses against eight girls at two homes in the borough in May, September and December of 2010 and in June and July of 2011, authorities said.

Cascio said the investigation showed Hinton met the children through his church.

“These girls were put in your trust and your care through adults of families at church,” Cascio said Thursday. “These families trusted you. You violated that trust in the most severe way.”

In September, Somerset Borough police charged Hinton with 200 counts. They include rape of a child, aggravated indecent assault of a child, indecent assault, indecent assault of a person younger than 13, indecent exposure, child endangerment, corruption of minors, possession of child pornography and designing obscene or sexual materials.

He pleaded guilty in February to three counts of aggravated indecent assault of a child, a third-degree felony.

The plea agreement relieves the other Somerset County victims of being called to testify, and is expected to satisfy prosecutors in Westmoreland, York and other counties investigating Hinton’s past, Primavera said.

Hinton called his actions “a rather quiet rebellion,” and asked for the shorter sentence so he could make amends with his family, his church and the families of his victims.

“The tentacles of this (rebellion) has wrapped itself around my heart and allowed me to do the kind of things I have done,” he said, adding he is not making excuses.

“I am not asking for the justice I deserve, but for your grace and forgiveness,” he told the judge.

Primavera was not swayed.

She said it is hard to describe a typical child molester, but there are some common behaviors.

“He’s doing the same thing,” she told the judge.

“It’s always I, I, I.”

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Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.