FORT WAYNE – Physical pain and emotional anguish, suicidal thoughts, nightmares, panic and trouble with relationships.
The young woman with long dark hair wept as she told Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck about what she endured for years at the hands of 44-year-old Jeffrey Buzzard.
What he did to her resulted in a 126-year prison sentence.
In January, based largely on her word alone, an Allen Superior Court jury convicted Buzzard of 10 charges – five counts of child molesting and five counts of child seduction.
Each of the child molesting charges applied to a different type of behavior Buzzard subjected the then-child to – intercourse and a variety of forced sex acts – over a period of years. The child seduction charges also outlined the same behavior but applied to when the girl became a teenager.
She described how Buzzard used her mother’s terminal illness to manipulate the relationship and to trap and isolate her.
You have to have control over somebody, she said. You knew what you were doing.
The case came to light two years ago when the now-young woman was voluntarily admitted to a hospital for treatment for mental health issues. During treatment, she disclosed that Buzzard had molested her from the time she was in the fourth grade and continued until she was 18 in June 2011.
Prosecutors charged Buzzard with the abuse in March, a year after he met with police and denied the allegations. He claimed to suffer from erectile dysfunction that started back in his first marriage. It was a statement not corroborated by his ex-wife, according to court documents.
As the young woman spoke Friday, taking back pieces of her life with each statement, Buzzard sat stone still.
I am not as weak as you thought, the woman said. I will not let you, Jeff, take my life away. I am not a victim anymore. I still have my courage and my strength.
Buzzard offered no apology, continuing to assert his innocence.
I did not abuse (her), he said. And she knows I didn’t.
Buzzard said he was shocked at the whole event, claiming to have put so much into the woman’s family and had it undone by a concerted effort on the part of others, comparing himself to a victim of the Salem witch trials.
When Surbeck spoke, he made clear who the wronged party in the case was, calling the woman’s testimony very credible.
I saw nothing that remotely suggests the defendant is some kind of victim, Surbeck said.
He crafted the sentence in a way that allowed some terms to be served at the same time as others, but others in consecutive order.
The total number of years was 126.
Asked whether he intended to appeal his conviction, Buzzard said quickly: Absolutely.