A man who was once lauded as one of Springfield’s innovative new businessmen has been sentenced to 90 years in prison for the sexual abuse of two special needs children.
James Kerns, 50, was the founder of Vertical Innovations, a company that planned to turn an old MFA silo into a vertical lettuce and mushroom farms. He founded the company in 2016, around the same time as prosecutors claimed he was abusing a 14-year-old and 13-year old, one of whom had autism and the other Fragile X syndrome.
Kerns, who maintains his innocence, was convicted of enticement of a child, first-degree statutory sodomy, abuse of a child and attempted enticement of a child. Judge David Jones sentenced Kerns to three sentences of 30-years to be served consecutively.
Defense attorney David Smith asked for a ten-year sentence.