Man to serve 13 years for sexual assault of child in Concord

  • Ronald Burr is led into the Merrimack County Superior Court on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, to be sentenced in a sex assault case dating back to 1990. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Ronald Burr stands with his lawyers in Merrimack County Superior Court during a plea and sentencing hearing in a sexual assault case dating back to the early ’90s. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A woman who suffered repeated sexual abuse as a child told her attacker in court Tuesday that his admission of guilt allowed her to feel relief for the first time after decades of pain.

“I lived in a prison mentally for so long. Last year it almost destroyed me,” wrote the woman, who last year made the nearly 1,000-mile trip from Tennessee to New Hampshire to report the abuse by Ronald Burr.

On Tuesday, she listened from the front row as a victim advocate read a statement she had prepared about how her life was forever altered by Burr, who began abusing her in Concord when she was 5. She highlighted for the court her diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder; her inability to trust others, especially with her children; her years of low self-esteem; and the anger that used to “eat me up inside.”

Burr, 55, who previously lived in Concord, will spend a minimum of 13 years in prison for his crimes after accepting a plea agreement with the Merrimack County Attorney’s Office.

Burr had once told his victim to keep quiet about the abuse, telling her it was “our secret,” according to court records. The woman, now 30, said for a long time she never thought anyone would believe her, and that she didn’t matter. But on Tuesday, the truth prevailed.

“I’d like to apologize, sir. I was wrong,” Burr told Merrimack County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger Jr. “I pray every day that she can get some closure and do better. I’m so sorry.”

Kissinger later told Burr, “Your remorse, in my view, falls very short.”

Children should be cared for and protected, Kissinger continued, not treated as “prey for acts of despicable abuse.”

In New Hampshire, an aggravated felonious sexual assault conviction carries a 10- to 20-year prison sentence. Burr pleaded guilty to four counts of the charge, meaning he could have faced a minimum of 40 years in prison.

Assistant Merrimack County Attorney David Rotman said Tuesday the state agreed to offer Burr 13 years to serve because the victim expressed her full support for the resolution. A deal also meant she would not have to endure a jury trial, and to travel from Tennessee to testify.

“It’s not the longest amount of time that we’ve handed out in cases like this; however, it is a significant amount of time,” Rotman said.

Burr also has two suspended 7½- to 15-year prison sentences hanging over him; the court can impose those consecutive sentences at any point during the next 40 years if he is not of good behavior.

Concord police began their investigation of Burr in December 2016, after the woman reported she’d been the victim of sexual abuse in the early 1990s while living in Concord.

The girl first disclosed the abuse to her grandmother when she was 9 years old and living with family in Tennessee. Her grandmother notified Tennessee Children’s Services of the allegations, and the girl underwent a medical exam.

However, the investigation went nowhere for nine years. When the girl inquired about the status of the case at age 18, she learned the investigating detective had been arrested on drug charges, and that the case was never reassigned when he left the department.

More recently, the woman inquired with Tennessee authorities about the possibility of pursuing criminal charges there, but learned the statute of limitations had lapsed. However, the statute of limitations had not expired in New Hampshire because Burr had moved out of state and not resumed residency since the 1990s.

At the conclusion of Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Kissinger told the woman he has “tremendous admiration and respect” for her efforts to pursue justice in this case.

“One thing is certain: A very bad man is going to prison for a long time, and children in Tennessee and New Hampshire will be safer as a result of that,” he said.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)