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55-year term for abuse of missing girl

MIAMI, Feb. 12 (UPI) — A Miami-area woman was sentenced to 55 years in prison Tuesday for abusing and kidnapping a foster child who vanished more than 10 years ago.

Geralyn Graham, 67, of Kendall denied mistreating Rilya Wilson, The Miami Herald reported.

“I love her too much to ever have done anything to her. Things have been greatly exaggerated,” Graham said. “I ask that those who believe I’ve done these things forgive me, and those who know in their hearts I would never do these things to keep praying for me. The truth will come out.”

Rilya was in the care of Graham and her partner, Pamela Graham, who is not a biological relative, when she disappeared in 2000. The Florida Department of Children & Families did not discover for more than a year that she was not in the home, and the two women at first said she had been taken away by a childcare worker for mental health treatment.

Pamela Graham later agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges and testified against Geralyn. A jury in January deadlocked on a murder charge while convicting her of aggravated child abuse and kidnapping.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler-Mendez said the state as well as her foster mothers failed Rilya.

“Rilya Wilson deserved nothing less than a loving, caring, nurturing environment,” the judge told Graham. “Instead she lived in fear and suffered in a house of torture, torment and abuse.”

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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