The Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Downtown Long Beach. File photo.
The Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Downtown Long Beach. File photo.

A former Long Beach city employee was sentenced this week to 16 years in prison for repeatedly abusing the young daughter of his longtime friends.

Michael Skelly, who worked for the city of Long Beach for 13 years before his arrest, pleaded no contest Thursday to one felony count of continuous sexual abuse, records show.

The 36-year-old has been in custody on $1.6 million bail since his arrest in March. Long Beach officials say they took him into custody and suspended him from his job as a city garage attendant after the girl he abused came forward.

The girl, now in her mid-teens, testified at a preliminary hearing in July that Skelly began abusing her when she was 5 years old. The Long Beach Post is not naming her because it generally does not identify survivors of sexual abuse unless they choose to use their names publicly.

She said Skelly was a close family friend who would sleep over at the home where he’d grope or molest her during the night.

“It wasn’t some stranger she encountered only once,” the girl’s family said in a statement provided to the court Thursday. “It was someone that was supposed to protect her, someone that called himself a friend to the family. Does a friend cause the worst type of pain and trauma on one of your precious children? No, he is just a predator that was out looking for his own gains that brutally violated the innocence of a 5-year-old child.”

Before a judge handed down Skelly’s sentence, prosecutors read a statement from the girl describing how the abuse left her emotionally broken and fearful for her safety.

She said the abuse continued until she was 10 years old. Once it stopped, she tried to forget it but could not stay silent out of fear that there could be other victims.

“He ruined my life, the way I perceive life itself, my relationships with people, I have trust issues,” her statement said. “I feel shame and embarrassment now knowing I should have said something sooner. This has affected my whole life, I hope to overcome it one day, but as of now, I have not found how to.”

After hearing her testimony about Skelly in July, Judge Daniel Lowenthal called the girl “extremely credible and brave” in describing her abuser’s “egregiousness” conduct.

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.