MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — A Montgomery County man was sentenced to 20-40 years in prison after pleading guilty to brutally abusing his wife and children.

Joseph Myhre, 45, pleaded guilty to more than 35 charges including aggravated assault, strangulation, and endangering the welfare of children. Although he said he felt profound regret and sorrow, he showed little emotion as he answered to the charges.

Myhre had completed three years of a master’s program for marriage and family therapy.

“It certainly is ironic, and I would imagine he may have even used that a tool to control them and manipulate them,” said Prosecutor Alex McMaster.

Myrhe’s wife had to be treated for a broken skull and she told the court, her doctor told her she was lucky to survive the injury.

“We’re talking about him torturing them for years using shock collars, using lancets to stick needles under their nails, strangling them to the point where they would pass out,” said McMaster.

As he was read the list of charges to which he was pleading guilty, he was asked if he violated a duty to protect his children, he asked “Can I clarify one thing?” but after talking to his lawyer, he answered “yes.”

Myhre is prohibited from reaching out to his children who are now 12 and 14 years old. Once the youngest child turns 18, he’s allowed what the court called non-offensive contact with his son and daughter, but only if they initiate the contact.

Myhre’s wife told the court she and her children protected him for years, “letting him live in the artificial light of a loving husband and father,” but, she went on to say, now it’s our turn to live in the light, in the sunlight of truth.

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