DOVER - A former Rollinsford man was sentenced Tuesday to serve more than 20 years in prison for sexually abusing two sisters under the age of 12.
Tyler Natalino, 32, received two consecutive terms of 10-20 years for four counts of felonious sexual assault and six counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault from Judge Daniel Will in Strafford County Superior Court. Natalino was also sentenced to serve 3.5 to 7 years for two convictions of felony-level indecent exposure.
Prosecutor Katelyn Henmueller, an assistant Strafford County attorney, said two years will be suspended if Natalino successfully completes sexual offender programs while in prison. A third sentence of 10-20 years was suspended for 15 years, pending good behavior. Upon his release, Natalino will be required to register as a sex offender and to keep in touch with law enforcement wherever he lives.
"We can't take back what he has done," said Lori Scarpello, grandmother of the two girls. "But we are 'family strong,' and we will get though this together."
Scarpello said Natalino was her daughter's live-in boyfriend. The abuse was reported to Scarpello, she said, when the children visited their grandmother for a sleepover. The sisters didn't previously know the other child was being abused, she said.
"The younger one said she had a secret handshake with Tyler," she said. "When she told that, her older sister, who was also being abused, knew she had to tell, to protect her sister."
Henmueller said the girls' mother did exactly the right thing in response to this information. She made Natalino leave the home and called police.
Henmueller said Natalino was essentially acting as stepfather to the two children, though the couple was not married.
"The abuse happened between 18-24 months," Henmueller said. "The kids were 9 and 11 when it began. They did not tell. The older child told when she realized it was happening to her younger sister. She came forward to protect her."
Natalino was arrested by Somersworth police. He was indicted for the crimes on June 17, 2021.
Child tells abuser: 'You stole my innocence'
Many family members read impact statements in court Tuesday before Natalino's sentence was handed down. This included a statement from one of the children Natalino abused. Both children had testified about the abuse for the trial.
"I used to be a happy kid, until you started touching me," she said. "I was confused. I didn't know why. I was 9. You stole my innocence and you don't even feel bad. I will be punished forever - you, only until you get out of jail. I hope you admit what you did someday, but I doubt it. The truth will set you free. It did for me."
In her statement, Scarpello said, "You were like a son to me, and I can't believe the lives you have shattered. Now we are picking up those pieces, and are trying to put our lives back together. I just can't wrap my head around any of this. I hope and pray that someday you get the help you need and take responsibility for what you have done."
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Henmueller and Judge Will both praised the family's strong bond, saying it will help them heal.
"I admire your courage and bravery," Will said to the two girls in court Tuesday.
Defense says Natalino had difficult childhood
In arguing for a more lenient sentence, defense attorney Timothy Connors said Natalino had suffered physical, mental and emotional abuse as a child, adding he has mental health issues as a result.
Will said he took that into account, but it did not excuse what he had done.
"The nature of these crimes is horrific," Will said. "I accept that you (Natalino) had a difficult time growing up. But there are many people who come up with the same situation and do not do this."
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If you need help
Haven has trained confidential advocates available, supporting southeastern New Hampshire through violence prevention education, support services, and community outreach. The 24-hour hotline is (603) 994-SAFE (7233), or connect to the confidential online chat service Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at havennh.org.
This article originally appeared on Fosters Daily Democrat: Ex-Rollinsford NH man sentenced to prison for child sex abuse