Crime

He molested a young Pierce County girl and fled to Cambodia. Now he’s been sentenced

Recognizing signs of physical child abuse

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.
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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.

A man who molested a young girl in Pierce County and fled to Cambodia following his arrest was sentenced Wednesday.

Gilbert Michael Greenwood, 63, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of both first-degree child molestation and third-degree child assault.

Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend sentenced him to eight years, four months to life in prison, which means the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board will decide when or if he’s released.

That sentence is what both the defense and prosecution recommended.

Charging papers say Greenwood first abused the girl in 2002, when she was 4, and continued to abuse her for 10 years.

He was released on bail following his arraignment in May 2013, then failed to appear for trial in October 2014.

U.S. Marshals found him in the city of Siem Reap, and he was extradited to Tacoma about a year ago.

Greenwood read the court a letter before he was sentenced in which he apologized for his actions and how they affected the victim and others.

He also described past and present troubles in his life, such as a relative’s drug addiction.

“In retrospect, I have no doubt this barrage of destructive and heartbreaking ordeals I suffered, to a large degree, weakened me and contributed to my downfall,” he said. “But I make no excuse for myself — there is none.”

He also said he has a disease that he thinks will soon kill him.

Greenwood said he’d been living in Cambodia with his wife and raising two sons.

It was his choice to be at the sentencing, he told the judge. He described corruption among police in Cambodia, and how he was tipped off prior to his arrest. He had an offer to escape to Laos with a new identity but turned it down because he wanted to face the charges against him, he told the judge.

The victim, now 19, also filed a letter about Greenwood with the court.

It read in part: “The audacity that you claimed innocence for years is beyond me. When you sneak off to another country, that doesn’t scream innocent. When you jump bail, that doesn’t scream innocent. You are fully aware of what you did to me. You are fully aware that you are a predator.”

Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune’s night reporter.

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