Mom gets maximum sentence
Calling her behavior atrocious for exposing her daughter to a child sexual predator who sold pictures of the girl on the Internet, a Monroe judge Thursday sentenced the mother of the child to serve a maximum sentence of nine months in jail.
Patricia Podgajski, 45, whose boyfriend was sentenced earlier this week to life in prison, waved to supporters in the courtroom, then started crying as she sat down to sign papers before being led to jail.
Federal authorities said Ms. Podgajski, who pleaded guilty to second degree child abuse, allowed her young daughter to be photographed in sexually provocative poses by her boyfriend James A. Frazee Jr., 53, who sold the images through a Web site.
Monroe County Circuit Judge Joseph A. Costello Jr. chastised Ms. Podgajski for allowing the illicit operation to occur in her Winchester St. home.
“That sends shivers up your spine,” the judge said. “This is an atrocious case. Completely atrocious.”
FBI agents raided the Winchester St. house in February and confiscated thousands of images from Mr. Frazee’s computer. Mr. Frazee, who served time in prison for sexually assaulting a young girl in Alpena, pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and earlier this week was sentenced by a federal judge in Detroit to life in prison.
Although she initially was charged federally, Ms. Podgajski’s case was sent to Monroe’s circuit court as part of an agreement. The couple and Ms. Podgajski’s two young children lived in the Winchester St. house.
The girl, now 15, and her younger brother are living with their biological father in another community. The father was in court on Thursday and told the judge he was astonished a mother could expose her own children to such a person as Mr. Frazee and allow the images to be sold.
“I just can’t believe this was happening,” the father told Judge Costello. “I can’t believe a mother would do this.”
The father also told the judge that his two children were doing well in school and in extracurricular activities. The children’s aunt told the judge that the exposure to such deviant behavior has scarred the children for the rest of their lives.
“Patricia did not protect her children,” the aunt said. “She needs to be disciplined. I don’t want her out there putting other children in danger.”
Although just the girl was photographed, family members and the judge agreed that the boy also was a victim.“There’s no doubt in my mind that by exposing them to this monster affects her son, too,” Judge Costello said. “I can see this leading to termination of parental rights.”
Ms. Podgajski said nothing. Her attorney, Richard M. Helfrick of Detroit, said his client accepts responsibility but asked the judge to sentence her to probation, not jail.
“I don’t agree she should get nine months in jail,” he said. “She is guilty of what she pleaded guilty to. She has good family support.”