BY ERIN NISSLEY
In Lackawanna County Court on Wednesday, Ms. Bishop spoke just minutes after her attacker, Floyd Dutter, 35, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of arson and cruelty to animals.
“We were brutally attacked by someone we considered a part of the family,” Bishop told Judge Vito Geroulo. “The experience taught us (to) fear. If someone so close to us could do this, what about the strangers who surround us every day?”
Dutter will serve 13½ to 30 years in prison for attacking Ms. Bishop, whom he’d been dating for more than three years, and her teenage daughters, Courtney and Cassandra, with a baseball bat May 5.
The attack occurred hours after Dutter was served with a protection-from-abuse order, barring him from any contact with the Bishop family.
He also struck the family dog in the head with a bat, injuring it so badly it had to be euthanized, according to investigators. Before fleeing the scene, he set fire to the Bishops’ mobile home. Investigators later found gas lines to the home had been cut.
Dutter was arrested after a 2 and a half hour standoff with police at the Sleep Inn in Dunmore, in which he claimed to have a bomb and a gun. He was not charged in that incident.
After pleading guilty Wednesday, Dutter apologized to Bishop and her children.
“I don’t know what happened that night,” he said. “I was drunk, but that’s no excuse.”
Bishop also told Judge Geroulo she continues to receive letters from Mr. Dutter, who has been in prison since his arrest. In addition to encouraging her to continue her kids’ counseling sessions, the judge said he’d make sure Mr. Dutter left the family alone.
“You have to accept … that you’re out of their lives,” Judge Geroulo told Dutter before ordering him to have no contact with the family while in prison or after his release.
He told Dutter he would keep tabs on whether those orders were followed and warned that, if they weren’t, Dutter’s release on parole might be affected.
Afterward, Deputy District Attorney Gene Riccardo said prosecutors and the victims were happy with the sentence.
“Our main concern is that the family remain safe,” he said.