- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 30, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A man accused of torturing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son before he and the woman fled to a Florida amusement park said Wednesday he never assaulted the boy and deserves to have decades cut off his prison sentence.

Roland Dow, who had not previously spoken publicly about the case, was convicted in June 2014 of 11 charges alleging he assaulted the boy, failed to get him medical help, coached him to lie to a social worker and secretly videotaped the social worker’s visit.

Dow was sentenced to 25 ½ to 67 years in state prison, but wants that reduced to 5 to 10 years, partly because the boy’s mother served only 2 ½ years for child endangerment.

“I feel that I was tried as an accomplice and then went to sentencing, and I was sentenced as a perpetrator,” he told a panel of judges. “I would never harm a child. I didn’t assault James. I don’t think the jury thinks that I assaulted James. I think I should be sentenced accordingly.”

The prosecution described Dow’s treatment of the child as “sadistic” and asked the judges to increase Dow’s minimum sentence to 30 years.

The judges didn’t indicate when they would rule.

Dow and the boy’s mother, Jessica Linscott, were arrested at the Universal Orlando Resort in November 2012, two weeks after leaving the boy, James Nicholson, at a hospital with a brain injury, head-to-toe bruises and burns on his arm and hand. The three had been living in Plaistow, New Hampshire.

Prosecutors said Dow, infuriated by minor misbehaviors, inflicted a “reign of terror” on the boy that included “torture sessions” in the bathroom, where James was forced to spend most of his time in the weeks before he was hospitalized. During Dow’s trial, jurors viewed videos, taken by the couple, that show the child whimpering in pain and crashing to the floor, while Dow is heard yelling at him to “Get up!” and “Stop having a fit!”

“The only way I can describe this man’s actions is sadistic and deliberate,” Rockingham County Attorney Patricia Conway said Wednesday. “This was a 3-year-old little boy … old enough to understand what was happening but not old enough to defend himself.”

During the trial, Dow’s attorneys painted Linscott as a longtime liar who blamed her ex-boyfriend for crimes she could have committed herself. On Wednesday, attorney Thomas Gleason said much confusion remains about how and when James was injured and who hurt him. Because it’s unclear whether jurors considered Dow an accomplice or main perpetrator, he is “entitled to the benefit of the doubt,” Gleason said.

The boy’s relatives, however, said Dow deserves to remain in prison for the rest of his life, if only to give James peace of mind. James’ great-aunt, Darlene Roberts, described him as a “sweet, thoughtful and compassionate little boy,” who has nightmares about Dow and requires frequent reassurance that “mean guy Roland” can’t hurt him. James sometimes re-enacts his abuse with toy figurines, she said, with the “mean guy” holding the other figure’s hand on a toy stove while it yells “Please don’t hurt me!”

“Mr. Dow’s freedom would be a new chapter in James’ imprisonment,” Roberts said. “Please, please do whatever you can to help James to both be and feel as safe as possible.”

Dow also has appealed his conviction to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

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