Ninety days in jail. Lifetime probation. A year in jail with work release.
In the last year, Roy Nelson, Richard Warf and Jeffrey Bigham walked out of court with what some consider a "slap on the wrist" after pleading guilty to sexual assault on a child.
"It's a disgrace," said Sandra Ugalde, who is looking for justice for her teenage daughter, the alleged assault victim of Robert Vicencio. Vicencio has pleaded guilty to an amended charge of sexual assault on a child, a Class 4 felony. If the plea agreement is finalized during a sentencing hearing in Delta District Court on March 6, a charge of aggravated incest will be dismissed.
"They give them 45 days in jail, or two years probation. What is that? Nobody is being punished . . . it's like giving them an okay to do what they do," Sandra said.
"It's a shame because the victims, like my daughter, have to live with that their whole life. My daugher has nightmares, she can't sleep unless the light is on . . . yet I see the people with DUIs, with drugs, they go to prison. It's a disgrace."
Delta Police Chief Robert Thomas understands Ugalde's concerns. His department arrested Vicencio in February 2011 after investigation revealed Vicencio had allegedly assaulted the girl over a period of time beginning when she was in the sixth grade.
"Hopefully he won't get a slap on the wrist," Thomas said. "I think he deserves prison time. I would be very disappointed if the system fails to provide justice for this young lady."
Ugalde and Vicencio lived together for 10 years. Sandra is burdened with guilt because she knows she brought Vicencio into her daughter's life. Then, because she was so busy working to support her family, she didn't notice what her daughter was going through.
"My daughter is now 15. She kept this to herself for years, since she was 10.
"I ask her, why you never say nothing to me? She says she didn't know what to do. She was afraid and she didn't want to destroy her family."
Sandra has yet to hear the whole story, and is apprehensive about what her daughter will have to say at the sentencing hearing. But she's determined to see justice done, so determined she researched the state statutes that define felonies and their sentencing ranges. She fought for a Class 3 felony for many months before the district attorney decided to proceed with the less serious Class 4 felony. The plea agreement leaves sentencing in the hands of Judge Charles Greenacre.
In addition to time in jail, Vicencio is facing deportation, treatment and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Chief Thomas hopes the judge's decision doesn't send the wrong message to other victims of sexual abuse. In his opinion, the judicial system has repeatedly allowed individuals to remain part of the community after they've been convicted of their crime. If the victims believe there's a chance they'll run into their abusers in the community, they may be afraid to come forward, the chief says.
"Victims ask themselves, 'Why should I come forward? Nothing is going to happen anyway.' That is the message we're beginning to send in the 7th Judicial District."
Still, he says his department is committed to thoroughly investigating crimes of violence, including sexual assaults, and forwarding the most solid case they can put together to the district attorney's office for prosecution. "Then it's out of our hands," he said.blog comments powered by Disqus