Former Radnor Township Commissioners President Bill Spingler was sentenced Thursday to two years probation for allegedly groping an 103-year-old woman during visits to her Wayne nursing home.
Spingler, 76, a Paoli real estate agent, was found guilty in June of two counts of indecent assault after employees at Genesis Healthcare Wayne Center said they saw Spingler touch the woman's breast on multiple occasions.
The woman was his mother-in-law, who suffered from dementia.
"I made a tremendous error," Spingler said Thursday. "For that, I am truly sorry, but the thing I am most sorry for is the pain I've inflicted on my family."
Judge John J. Capuzzi Sr. handed down Spingler's probation sentence despite prosecutor Ryan Grace's request that Spingler serve time in prison. Grace compared assault on a elderly person to abuse of a child, saying both involve betraying the trust of a vulnerable individual.
Pierce stressed that his client had no criminal history and that evaluations indicated he was unlikely to offend again.
Spingler, a Democrat, had been active in local politics until 2015, when he retired as president of the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners.
"I also want to apologize to Radnor Township," Spingler said of his home for more than 60 years. "I love Radnor Township."
Spingler's sister sat in the back of the courtroom, and his fiancée would have been present had she not recently suffered a stroke, said attorney James Michael Pierce. The victim was the mother of Spingler's first wife, who died in 2007. His second wife is also deceased.
In an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News in January, Spingler said he had cared deeply for his mother-in-law and would regularly hug and kiss her in public. But he became saddened, he said, by the fact that she no longer recognized him.
"All I did was hug her," Spingler said. "I wanted her to know I was there. This was a woman I loved that I lost. You know?"
Spingler, who had been free on bail prior to sentencing, will spend the first 60 days of his probation under electronic home monitoring. He was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with the victim.
Spingler told the court he wanted to "reclaim his reputation" and move forward with his life.