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Posted on: July 31, 2019

District Attorney Hoovler Announces guilty Plea in Child Sex Abuse Case

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Defendant faces Seven Years in State Prison for Sexually Abusing Five-Year-Old  

Prosecutor’s Recommending Maximum Sentence


Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, James Zirkle, 70, of Middletown, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge William L. DeProspo to Sexual Abuse in the First Degree.  Zirkle faces a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison and ten years post-release supervision when he is sentenced on October 2, 2019.

At the time that Zirkle pleaded guilty, he admitted that on March 24, 2019, he placed his finger in the anus of a child inside an apartment building in Middletown.  Prosecutors had argued that Zirkle had met the five-year-old child in a playground outside of the apartment building and led the child into the building where he sexually assaulted his victim.  Zirkle had been indicted by an Orange County Grand Jury in April 2019 and pleaded guilty to the most serious charge in the indictment.  At the time that Zirkle pleaded guilty, prosecutors stated that they would be recommending that Zirkle be sentenced to the maximum sentence authorized under the law. The maximum sentence for Sexual Abuse in the First Degree is seven years in state prison and ten years post-release supervision.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jessica Dovico.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Middletown Police Department for their investigation of the case, Zirkle’s arrest, and their assistance with the prosecution.  

“Children are the most innocent and vulnerable of victims,” said District Attorney Hoovler.  “My office will continue to seek the maximum sentences allowed under the law for those who prey on children.”

A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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