GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)– A man who pleaded guilty to molesting young boys received the maximum sentence in prison- 24 years to life.
James Bird pleaded guilty in Dec. 2011 to sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.
“To see the sentence today be the most, the maximum the judge can do is very personally gratifying for us. We feel like some measure of justice for the victims has been accomplished today,” said Deputy District Attorney Krislene Lorenz.
Bird is 65 years old. He will be at least 89 years old before he is released from prison.
Three of the boys are brothers. Two are now young adults. The boys and their mother met Bird at the Heritage Christian Center where they attended church.
Bird began to cultivate a relationship with the boys and their mother. He helped them financially. Soon he began grooming the boys for future sexual assaults by giving them expensive gifts like motorcycles and cars, taking them on trips, sporting events and providing them and their friends with drugs and alcohol.
Bird also paid for the boys to have braces and later paid college tuition for one of the boys. He also took them on trips around the U.S. and Europe.
The sexual assaults occurred from 2002 to 2009 when one of the teens came forward and reported it to the police in April 2009.
The brothers lived with Bird for a period of time. Shortly after the boys turned 18 Bird legally adopted them.
The fourth victim named in this case was sexually assaulted by Bird in the mid-1990s when he was 13 years old. Bird lived in Douglas County at the time.
Three of the young men who were victimized by Bird spoke to Judge Tidball before she imposed sentence, and the fourth had prepared a statement which was read by a friend.
Each of the young men described the devastating effect Bird has had on their lives, taking away their teen years, and destroying their faith and trust in themselves and others.
In 2009, Bird defended himself against the allegations in a video taped message that he recorded after he fled the U.S.
“These allegations are baseless and false. I am extremely surprised and sad that his has transpired,” he stated on the message.
In Friday’s sentencing hearing, Bird address the victims, “I take responsibility for my actions. I was in a position of trust and I abused that position.”
Prosecutors said they are satisfied with the sentence and hope that this case sends a message.
“We will not tolerate child abuse. We will not tolerate it as physical abuse. We will stand up for our children. We will believe them. We will fight for them and we’re so proud of them and we will always do that,” said Lorenz.