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Molester, 25, may never leave prison

Matthew Thogode spent his early 20s studying to be a minister.

After his sentencing Thursday, the convicted child molester will most likely spend the rest of his life as a prisoner.

The 25-year-old Spring Hill man was convicted in September of three counts of sexual battery upon a child under 12, two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct and one count of attempted sexual battery.

Circuit Judge Jack Springstead sentenced Thogode to three life terms in prison, the mandatory total for the sexual battery charges. Thogode also received 22.3 years for the attempted sexual battery and 15 years each for the lewd and lascivious charges.

The sentences are to be served consecutively.

Thogode can appeal the case, but if his appeal fails, he will never be released, Springstead said.

"He won't ever have a chance to do this type of thing to another young girl," the judge said. "That's one blessing of the mandatory sentences."

Thogode, of 11085 Thornberry Drive, met the girl and her family at church in March 1996. After befriending the girl, Thogode molested her several times at her home and attempted to have sex with her.

The Brooksville Police Department began investigating in October 1996 after the victim's grandmother said Thogode had kissed the girl on the lips. Thogode admitted to investigators that he touched the girl. He also told them he considered the girl to be his lover.

The jury convicted Thogode on all charges after a two-day trial.

Thogode, who at the time was a stocker at Wal-Mart in Spring Hill, was training to be a minister and frequently attended church, his father, William Thogode Sr., told the Times after the arrest.