After hearing testimony Monday from victims who described a former Baxter Springs school crossing guard and city councilman as a “monster,” a Cherokee County judge sentenced Stanley Pickering to prison for more than 75 years.
Pickering, 79, received two consecutive 25-year sentences without chance for parole and an additional 321 months on four counts of aggravated indecent liberties, one count of aggravated criminal sodomy and one count of aggravated indecent solicitation.
District Judge Kurtis Loy said Pickering stole the children’s innocence. He met some of his victims at a church, where he was a Sunday school teacher.
“You victimized the children, you victimized the church and you victimized the community,” Loy said after sentencing Pickering.
The charges involved acts with three children, all younger than 14, in a time frame extending from July 2003 to August 2012, but the judge said Pickering’s actions spanned a 35-year period.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Christine Ladner, who said Pickering had more than 20 victims.
Pickering was arrested Jan. 30 at his home after information given by a victim to the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Baxter Springs Police Department was forwarded to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
One of his victims, who spoke during the sentencing hearing, said Pickering was like a grandfather figure to him.
“It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that Stan was not somebody I could trust,” he said. “He was somebody who actually took something away from me that I’ll never be able to get, and that’s my childhood and trust in other men.”
An impact statement from a second victim, who wasn’t present, was read to the judge.
“As years have passed, the horrifying details have faded, but the pain has endured,” the statement read. “Every time I have seen this monster in public, even if I was on top of the world that particular day, I could literally be dropped to my knees, and the pain at the very sight of him infuriated me to say the least. He single-handedly managed to make my life a living hell on a daily basis.”
A third victim said he thought he could trust Pickering and also viewed him as a grandfather.
“He’s a monster,” he said. “I think that he needs to go to jail for the rest of his life, where he can’t hurt another kid like he hurt me. I think any sentence he gets, to be honest, isn’t enough.”
In orange jail garb and ankle shackles, Pickering told the judge: “I’m very sorry for what I’ve done. I take full responsibility of my actions, and I pray each day that the Lord will forgive me.”
STANLEY PICKERING pleaded guilty one week after the April 1 election in which he was unopposed for a 1st Ward Baxter Springs council post from which he resigned on Jan. 30, the day of his arrest. A write-in candidate was elected to the post. Pickering also resigned from his job as a school crossing guard on the day of his arrest.