U.S. Attorney Gregory Van Tatenhove said he believed the two were involved in sexual abuse incidents in Boyle and Mercer counties, based on statements by both during interrogation, and on evidence uncovered during the investigation. In Boyle County, a boy less than 12 years old was allegedly assaulted while playing at the Boyle County Fairgrounds July 13, 2003. In Mercer County, a 10-year-old boy was allegedly assaulted in the Mercer County Public Library the same day.
"We do feel strongly we provided evidence to the court today, as well as by admissions by both defendants, that suggest to us that these are the individuals we were looking for in those cases," said Van Tatenhove.
Jane Atkins had recounted instances of sexual contact with children
A Boone County detective told the court Monday that Jane Adkins recounted instances of illegal sexual contact with children in libraries and on playgrounds in Georgetown, Danville, Harrodsburg, and Walton. It was based upon this admission and other evidence that Forester delivered his rare upward departure from federal sentencing guidelines.
The defense maintained there was no corroboration of Jane Adkins' testimony, but the prosecution said there was ample corroborating evidence beyond her testimony.
"Under the federal sentencing guidelines, a number of factors are brought before the court," said Van Tatenhove. "The court applies those factors and comes up with a sentencing range. In rare instances, the judge can depart from the range. He can say for certain reasons he's going to depart either below or above - it's rare to go above it. That was the focus for today's hearing.
"The court found there had been children molested in a variety of instances and that became the reason for the upward departure for the judge's decision," he said.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Adkins ordinarily would have faced a maximum sentence like that Forester imposed on co-defendant Jane Adkins - 365 months in prison.
Bottoms said evidence presented linking the Adkinses to the incidents in Boyle and Mercer counties would be presented to local law enforcement officials, and the option to file local charges would remain.
"We won't rule anything out down the road"
"If the families of the victims decided they wanted to prosecute, or if appellate decisions rendered the federal court sentences invalid, then we may very well choose to file," he said. "We won't rule anything out down the road."
Van Tatenhove said Bottoms' decision has merit.
"That decision is certainly at the discretion of the Commonwealth's Attorney, but one can really understand in a case like this, the concerns about further injuring these young victims," he said.
"It becomes a balancing act regarding the federal sentences versus putting those victims through the ordeal of a trial, and I can certainly understand a prosecutor's decision in that regard, especially considering the severity of the federal sentences."
Defense attorneys Patrick Nash for Terry Adkins and Adele Brown for Jane Adkins said they would appeal on multiple points.
Both Terry and Jane Adkins were remanded back into custody following Forester's decision, but Van Tatenhove said no decision had been made as to the location of their incarceration. He said both can earn up to a 15 percent reduction in their sentences based on good behavior, which could cut Terry Adkins' sentence to more than 60 years and Jane Adkins' term to 26 years.
Terry Adkins still would have to serve "well over 60 years" and, at 26, would be nearly 90 before he was released, Van Tatenhove said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.