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Man gets 3 years for influencing conviction
Rape trial begins soon
Sullivan Sentenced 4 es
Michael Sullivan hugs his father after the hearing. - photo by Emily Saunders
Forsyth County Superior Court Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley didn't mince words Friday in sentencing a man convicted of attempting to influence a witness in a rape case.

Calling it a blow to the court system, Bagley told Michael Sullivan that “critical to that system of justice overall is the ability for each side to fairly present their case to the jury.”

Had Sullivan been allowed to get by with trying to influence the witness, Bagley said, then "our system would have failed."

"And that’s the reason that this is a crime," the judge said. "That’s the reason that it is something that must be punished, and must be severely punished.”

Sullivan's punishment, as handed down by Bagley, will be to spend three years of an eight-year sentence in prison for trying to convince the woman he allegedly raped to drop the charges.

Sullivan, 42, was convicted in May of influencing his 45-year-old accuser.

His trial in the rape case is scheduled to begin Monday.

Prior to his sentencing Friday, Sullivan appealed to the judge to “show mercy today on me.”

Sullivan's wife, Carly, and an acquaintance, James Roberts, pleaded guilty earlier in May to the influencing charge.

All three were arrested in April 2009 for trying to bribe the accuser.

Friday in court, Sullivan said his wife was two months pregnant when she was arrested for “doing something I asked her to do last minute.”

Sullivan said his wife had a panic attack while in custody and suffered a miscarriage.

“I caused the suffering of my entire family,” he said.

During the trial in May, the accuser said Roberts came to her home in March 2009 and offered her $10,000 if she would agree to drop the charges against Sullivan. If she didn’t, Roberts said Sullivan would sue her for perjury and publicize it.

Sullivan said Friday that he regretted not testifying on his own behalf.

He said he was consumed with pride, arrogant, unfaithful and loud, but has become humble and helpless during his time in jail.

“I can’t change the past your honor, but I can learn from it,” he said.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Scalia offered a different version of events.

Citing the trial last month, she said Sullivan was "a very confident, arrogant and I’d submit cocky man that he was going to get off these charges.”

“I’d submit judge [that] he’s a deflated man because he’s convicted,” Scalia said. “The only reason he’s a changed man is because he was convicted by 12 jurors.”

Family and friends, including Sullivan’s wife and parents, sat in the courtroom.

His mother could be heard sobbing. After Bagley handed down the sentence, Sullivan’s father was granted permission to give his son a hug.

Bagley also noted Sullivan could not have any contact whatsoever with the alleged rape victim or Roberts.

In her address to the judge, Scalia said the charge of influencing a rape victim was particularly disturbing since it added insult to what was already a “violent, heinous” crime.