WILKES-BARRE – A Jenkins Township man who was convicted of sexual assault charges after a jury deliberated for only 10 minutes at a trial he failed to attend was sentenced Friday to 18 to 36 years in state prison.
Clyde Tonkin, 30, of Main Street, was sentenced on seven charges stemming from the sexual assault of a now-14-year-old girl in 2011, who later gave birth to their child and six other unrelated incidents.
Tonkin was convicted of the assault charges in April after a one-day jury trial and pleaded guilty to the other charges, including theft and trespassing.
“I’m sorry,” Tonkin told Judge Joseph Sklarosky, Jr., Friday. “I wish I could take it all back.”
Sklarosky deemed Tonkin a sexually violent predator after hearing testimony from a member of the state Sexual Offender’s Assessment Board, which requires him to register his address under Megan’s Law for life.
Tonkin was scheduled to stand trial in April after a failed plea agreement, but he did not appear at the Luzerne County Courthouse. Investigators said Tonkin cut off an ankle bracelet he was required to wear as part of his bail conditions and fled the area.
Assistant District Attorney Nancy Violi asked that the trial be held in Tonkin’s absence, a request Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. granted.
Violi said Friday Tonkin “thumbed his nose at the authority of the court and justice system” when he failed to show up for his trial, and that Tonkin violated the trust and innocence of the girl.
“He has shown no remorse,” the girl’s mother said Friday. “He will do it again to another child.”
The 14-year-old testified at the trial she trusted Tonkin and even regarded him as a father-figure in her life. Until, she said, he began sexually assaulting her – even to the point where she became pregnant and gave birth to a girl.
“He raped me,” the girl testified in the first day of Tonkin’s trial while holding a stuffed bear. “Eventually, I stopped fighting him. I thought I was in love with him, but I was also still scared of him.”
The girl said that in November 2011, she discovered she was 28 weeks pregnant. She told Tonkin of the pregnancy, she testified, and Tonkin said the two would “go away.”
Tonkin instructed the teen in February 2012 to write a letter that she was going to her father’s home in Louisiana. She took her mother’s bank card and the two drove to Ohio, where a car Tonkin had purchased had broken down.
The girl said the two checked into a hotel and she began to have stomach pains. Thinking she was in labor or that there was a problem with the baby, Tonkin drove her to an Ohio hospital.
After she was released from the hospital a short time later, police arrived at the hotel room where the couple was staying, and the girl was eventually returned to her mother in Pennsylvania. The teen gave birth to her daughter a few days later.
After his April trial, Tonkin was located by authorities three days later and taken into custody.
Tonkin received 16 to 32 years in prison on the sexual assault charges and an additional two to four years on burglary and criminal trespassing charges. Tonkin was also sentenced on charges of theft of a motor vehicle, resisting arrest and escape, all of which were concurrent sentences.
The incidents occurred in 2012 in Jenkins Township and Pittston.