Deal nixed by one judge OK’d in case of battery vs. minors

Posted: November 27, 2012

The Winchester Star

Robert Shade

WINCHESTER — About a month after Frederick County Circuit Court Judge Clay Athey rejected a plea agreement involving aggravated sexual battery charges, another judge has approved it.

Robert Lee Shade, 52, appeared in court Monday with attorney Christopher Collins and entered two Alford pleas of guilt to separate charges of aggravated sexual battery.

In an Alford plea, a defendant maintains his innocence while acknowledging that the prosecution has enough evidence to obtain a conviction.

The pleas were part of an agreement with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Athey — who rejected the agreement in October — previously said he was not comfortable with the terms.

Shade is charged with one assault from 2009 and one from 1994-95 — involving different victims.

Visiting Judge Donald M. Haddock approved the agreement, which sentenced Shade to 20 months in jail and five years of supervised probation, followed by 10 years of unsupervised probation.

He also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

One charge each of rape, indecent liberties and object sexual penetration against Shade were not prosecuted.

Haddock said — in addressing the victims — that the agreement was just as distasteful to the judiciary as it was to them, but because of circumstances known best by prosecutors, it was acceptable.

The sentencing with the plea agreement is below sentencing guidelines, but Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Fahnda W. Hashish previously said she feels it is an appropriate punishment. Expounding at a previous hearing, Hashish said the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office didn’t find out about the 1994-95 crime until 15 to 17 years later.

There also was an investigative file involving one of Shade’s cases that was lost, and only recently found, according to a previous Star article.

The 2009 aggravated sexual battery charge involved a Frederick County girl who was 9 years old at the time.

Her mother spoke up at the hearing and said she felt like 20 months in jail was “crazy.”

“It’s not right, I don’t think he should be around kids and he needs help, he needs a lot of help,” she said, crying.

The other victim had someone read her impact statement aloud to the court.

In the statement, the victim said that to this day she still struggles with being left alone and being in the dark, adding that there is no exception or explanation that could satisfy her desire to know why Shade assaulted her.

Although in her statement she said she approved the plea agreement and forgave Shade, she said she will never forget what he did to her.

“I will have to live with this for the rest of my life,” she said in the statement.

She praised law enforcement and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and said that because of them, she can now move on to the healing process.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com