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Lompoc Volunteer Called ‘Vile Monster’ During Sentencing For Child Molestation

Judge sentences retired California Highway Patrol officer, former City Council member Anthony "Tony" Durham to spend 45 years to life in state prison

Anthony “Tony” Durham Sr., 67, is sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison for multiple counts of child molestation during a Thursday hearing in Lompoc Superior Court where a victim’s mother called him “a vile monster.” Click to view larger
Anthony “Tony” Durham Sr., 67, is sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison for multiple counts of child molestation during a Thursday hearing in Lompoc Superior Court where a victim’s mother called him “a vile monster.” (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A former Lompoc community leader was called a “vile monster” Thursday morning in an emotional hearing where he was formally sentenced to at least 45 years in state prison for multiple child molestation charges.

Anthony “Tony” Durham Sr., 67, appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Lompoc weeks after pleading guilty to 17 charges. Family members, supporters and police officers filled Judge Rogelio Flores’ courtroom for the sentencing hearing.

The mother of a victim noted Durham’s status in the community, including being a retired California Highway Patrol officer, church deacon and counselor to first responders.

“I will never understand how someone so amazing can actually be such a horrible disgusting vile monster,” the mother said. “But you are. You are the ultimate monster because you hid behind all the good you pretended to do for our family and for this community.

“Oh, you were good, you were good at being the perfect monster. You hid behind the badge, behind God and all your volunteer work,” she said. “But all of that was a front to hide your true evil — a child predator, a child molester.”

Seven months ago, the family’s life imploded with revelations of the molestation involving two young girls. 

Durham was charged with 14 counts of sexual contact with a child 10 years of age or younger, including oral copulation and sexual penetration.

He also was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts involving the two victims.

With a sentence of 45 years to life, Durham is expected to spend the rest of his life behind bars. If he had been convicted of the charges, Durham faced more than 200 years in prison. 

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Stephen Foley read statements from the girls Durham molested.

“I thought I would be safe around you, but I guess I was wrong,” one girl wrote.

“All I want to know is why did you do what you did to us, even when you knew it was wrong,” another victim wrote. “You made yourself so important to everyone and it was a lie.”

Afterward, Foley told the judge he wanted the record to be clear that the case did not involve an isolated incident.

“We have at least four years of repeated, chronic and predatory child molestations,” Foley said. “The molestation occurred hundreds of times, not limited to the 17 counts that he pled guilty to.

“And I agree with probation that it would show a lack of insight and a lack of reality if this were explained away with a head injury, or a sleep disorder or prescription medication,” Foley added. “I think that does insult to the severity of the crimes. 

“The defendant said he didn’t think he hurt the girls too much because he didn’t do anything that disgusting. I would say he’s wrong on both accounts. What he did were unspeakable acts …,” Foley said.

As a result of the molestations, the girls had physical illnesses, trouble in school and the “countless impacts on their psyche and their families,” Foley added.

The judge ordered Durham to pay the families more than $11,000 for medical costs, lost wages due to attending court, and tutoring to help the girls with their lessons. But Foley said the restitution amount should remain open to pay for future counseling for the girls.

Near the end of the hearing, Durham’s attorney, Chris Ames, said the defendant — who sat in the hearing with a tissue box on his lap — wanted to say a few words, a request the judge denied. 

Earlier Flores noted Durham’s attorney had submitted letters supporting the defendant. 

“I recently celebrated my 30th year on the bench serving the county and I can tell you this is probably the most difficult case I’ve presided over,” Flores said.

Durham, who was active in the community and served a short stint on the Lompoc City Council, was arrested in late September.

He had served as a Lompoc police volunteer, led the Every Fifteen Minutes program, and accepted many accolades for his volunteer work such as top citizen. 

The allegations against Durham shocked the Lompoc Valley.

“This community has been hurt and I love Lompoc,” Flores said. “It’s been hurt to its very core. But healing does not mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives. 

“And it’s time for healing here,” Flores said. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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