ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - An Ashland CEO accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenage girl will serve two years behind bars.
Todd Attkisson was sentenced to five years, with three suspended. He will be able to do work release during that time. Attkisson, who is president of Ashland Milling Company or Ashland Roller Mills, faced nine charges of indecent liberties with a child in Henrico County. He
Prosecutors told the judge that Attkisson and the victim exchanged 22-thousand text messages. The relationship started when the teenager was just 14 years old and lasted more than two years. Attkisson was 46 years old at the time.
More than 100 letters of support for Attkisson were submitted to the judge.
But the judge says it was a major violation of trust when Attkisson had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl who was dating the CEO's son. But there are people who don't believe this actually happened.
"Based on lies I believe," said one woman who only identified herself as neighbor.
"I don't think you can fool that many people and then one person came forward?" says another woman who says she is a family friend. "Why would he pick one person when he's been exposed to all those people?"
In court, testimony from both sides say the victim was going through personal troubles, needed a father figure and wanted to be a part of the Attkisson family. Friends and even Attkisson's wife said the victim was welcomed with open arms. But prosecutors say the C-E-O was, "...a wolf in sheep's clothing." She cited text messages where the he told the victim to "...come to the hot tub" and "...he was naked." Attkisson's wife took the stand, telling the court that text was meant for her. But prosecutors cited other degrading texts. Attkisson's wife said her husband was a kind, loving and generous father devoted to his family. Other friends and employees talked about how he was known for large donations ranging from $500 to $1,000 for charitable fundraisers and people who needed help.
The victim and her family did not take the stand. But did submit a Victim Impact Statement. The prosecutor says her father feels like he failed to protect his daughter. The victim also wrote the judge saying she cries and lives with this every day.
Attkisson also stood up in court, apologizing to his family and pleading for mercy, but was eventually led away in handcuffs. The victim was seen crying as she walked out of court, Attkisson told his family that he loved them.
He will also continue to register as a sex offender. The Sheriff confirmed he will be on work release but cannot go any where near where children are.