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Former NL cop apologizes at sex assault sentencing

Former New London police officer William R. Edwards Sr. apologized to his family this morning as he was sentenced to two years in prison and 10 years' probation for inappropriate sexual contact with a young boy.

"This has been incredibly hard on them," he said. "My actions have totally been destructive, and I fault myself for not catching what was going on in time," he said. "I carry with me, every single day, remorse and regret."

His wife and parents watched from the audience as the 46-year-old Edwards, who has already served three months in prison, stood before a Danielson judge in tan prison scrubs, handcuffs and leg irons.

The 22-year police veteran had pleaded guilty to risk of injury to a minor, tampering with a witness and violating a protective order.

Because he was so well-known by law enforcement authorities in New London, his case was heard in the Windham County judicial district. State's Attorney Patricia M. Froehlich said Edwards forced the victim, who was 5 to 7 years old at the time, to submit to sexual contact during a self-described "dark period" of his life when he was abusing drugs and alcohol. She said Edwards seemed to have very little insight into his problems based on statements he made during a pre-sentence interview with the Department of Adult Probation.

Defense attorney Ronald F. Stevens said that from the first time he met his client, Edwards did not want to take his case to trial, which would have forced the victim to testify. He said that psychiatrists who examined Edwards determined the inappropriate sexual contact was not a result of a sexual attraction to the victim but due to distorted thinking caused by use of drugs and alcohol.

"There's a saying, 'The man takes the drink and the drug, and then the drink and drug take the man,'" Stevens said. "I think that's appropriate in this case."

Edwards, who had served as New London's community police officer, was suspended and then fired following his arrest in January 2009. He had been well-respected in the community, and several people sent letters of support to the court.

"He's done a lot of good for the community," said Judge Vernon Oliver. "He's done a lot of damage to those he should have cherished the most."

The judge said the sentence was in the best interest of the community. He ordered Edwards to undergo sex offender evaluation and treatment, if necessary while on probation. He is to have no contact with the victim and no unsupervised contact with children under 16. He will not be required to register as a sex offender.

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