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Former TV reporter sentenced for child sex assault

HACKENSACK (AP) — A former New York City television reporter has been sentenced to 26 years in prison after being found guilty on charges, including the sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl at his home in New Jersey.

At his sentencing Friday, former Fox 5 reporter Charles Leaf seemed to have aged and lost weight since his trial months ago. Leaf staunchly maintained his innocence as he spoke for more than 20 minutes in state Superior Court in Hackensack with the aid of hand-written notes.

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and his hands in cuffs, Leaf said that abusing a child was an “abhorrent” and “reprehensible” act, perpetrated by “the worst kind of criminal.”

“I however, your honor, am not one of them,” he told the court, sometimes tearing up. “I am innocent, 100 percent innocent, innocent of all eight counts.”

Leaf, of Wyckoff, was arrested in 2010 and was found guilty in February by a jury on eight counts including sexual assault, child endangerment and possession of child pornography.

During the trial, the now 8-year-old girl withdrew her accusations, and Leaf’s father-in-law testified that he, not Leaf, had viewed porn on Leaf’s computer.

After sentencing, Assistant Prosecutor Kenneth Ralph said the punishment imposed by Judge James Guida was fair. Ralph had recommended a 28-year sentence.

Leaf’s attorney, Brian Neary, said his client plans to appeal the “flawed and baffling” verdict.

“We firmly believe that the jury got this wrong,” Neary said. “Mr. Leaf maintains his innocence and will continue to fight.”

Leaf’s wife, Monica, declined to speak to reporters. Throughout the trial, she stood by his side.

(© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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