At his sentencing last week in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Christopher Chamblin’s victims said they never told anyone he was raping and brutalizing them because if they did, they were afraid he would kill their entire family.
So, thirty years ago, the two little girls, ages five and six, suffered in silence and terror.
The ordeal continued for at least two years, filling them with a “crushing loneliness” that drugs and a stay at a mental hospital and suicide attempts years later could not exorcise.
But last week their voices were finally heard when a Montgomery County Judge sentenced Chamblin to 25 years in prison for his crimes.
“I was only five years old when he began raping me, and it was SO painful. I lost EVERYTHING when I was five,” one of Chamblin’s victims said as she sat, sobbing, in front of Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Marielsa Bernard while her husband held her.
“I grew up believing God hated me,” she said, recounting loneliness and physical wounds from the attacks that affect her health to this day. Although she had tried so hard to suppress the memories of abuse, it all came roaring back when her daughter turned 5, the same age she had been when the abuse began.
The fear stayed with her as well.
“He told me he would kill my entire family and that he would save me for last,” she told Judge Bernard. “I am begging you not to give him the chance to carry out these threats.”
The older sister had been six when the abuse started.
It wasn’t until 2009, when the two contacted Montgomery County Police, that justice finally caught up with Chamblin.
“In all aspects, the damage is incalculable,” the older victim said at the hearing. “Due to the defendant’s actions, I lost my virginity before I even knew what it was.”
It has been nearly impossible for the women to trust men, the women told Judge Bernard. Everyday tasks like grocery shopping are impossible, said the elder sister, who home schools her children to make sure nothing can hurt them.
Last year a jury convicted Chamblin of 10 counts of first-degree rape and other sexual offenses. He had been living in Florida, since around the time he was 18, in a far different life from the one he had in Montgomery County when he was 14 or 15.
In Florida, Chamblin had married, raised three sons, and supported his family over the last thirty years. Those who spoke on his behalf presented him as a devout Christian, an exemplary inmate and peer counselor to other prisoners, a kind and loving father, and a successful floorer with a solid work record.
His wife, Angela, told the judge “he is the glue that holds our family together. We need him back.”
The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office had asked Chamblin be sentenced to between 230 and 330 years in prison.
“The defendant lived a life he wasn’t entitled to have,” said Debbie Feinstein, an Assistant State’s Attorney who prosecuted the case with Dana Kaplan.
The forewoman of the jury, who attended the hearing to support the victims, said she was “shocked” by the sentence.
“That’s too low,” she said, adding that the testimony from the trial had given her nightmares.
Although he did not admit his guilt in court, Chamblin apologized to the victims for the agony the trial had caused them and said that he had already paid a steep price since being arrested in 2011.
His son, Joel, died in a car crash as he was driving to Maryland to pick him up after he was released on bail in April of that year.
“I feel like I’ve paid with a death penalty, so to speak,” said Chamblin, who sat impassive, through most of the hearing.
“I am not the same person as when I was 15,” he told Judge Bernard.
Judge Bernard said that reconciling Chamblin’s actions as a teen and his quiet life afterward made the sentencing the hardest decision she’d faced as a judge. “I’m agonized about this case and the decision I have to make,” she said. “You took their innocence and trust of humanity.”