Although he pleaded guilty to felony child abuse with an underlying sexual basis, Jeremias Quintero maintained his innocence throughout a sentencing hearing in Delta District Court last week. Ironically, his continuous denial played a factor in the four-year prison sentence handed down by Judge Stephen Schultz.
Taking responsibility for one's actions is one of the most important elements in sex offender treatment, deputy district attorney Seth Ryan argued. Because of that refusal, Quintero was denied placement in a community corrections facility. The judge also dismissed two other options -- probation and a jail sentence.
Defense attorney Vincent Felletter pointed out Quintero entered an "Alford" plea, meaning he did not admit his guilt but recognized there was a good chance he could be convicted by a jury.
The district attorney's office accepted that plea, Felletter said, then turned around and argued he won't accept responsibility. "Under an Alford plea he does not have to admit he committed the crime," Felletter argued.
In fact, Felletter said, Quintero was adamant about going to trial until the district attorney made the offer of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.
Defense attorney Vincent Felletter accused the prosecutor of being "zealous" and said the criminal investigation was so badly flawed, the detective should have lost his job.
"Those perceived to be sex offenders are apparently not worthy of the same due process afforded other defendants," Felletter maintained during a lengthy argument before the court. "The justice system has not been fair to Mr. Quintero from the beginning."
He was dismayed the probation department did not review letters in support of Quintero, "because apparently it doesn't matter what kind of life he led."
Quintero has had a long, stable marriage, has raised four good children, and has ministered to hundreds of adults and children over the years without any accusations of inappropriate behavior, Felletter maintained.
He also addressed the fact that the victim in this case died in a car accident last spring, depriving Quintero of one of his most fundamental rights as a defendant -- to face his accuser in criminal proceedings.
"Justice was sacrified in this case," Felletter said. "The best the court can do is come up with an appropriate sentence."
Several of the victim's family members also spoke, and his therapist provided chilling details revealed by the victim over months of work.
Schultz noted Quintero was the victim's pastor, and as such should be held to a higher standard of conduct. In addition, he has shown no remorse. "You blamed the victim; you blamed the victim's family, but you're here today because of your own actions," the judge said.
Although the prosecution requested an eight-year sentence, Judge Schultz opted for the four-year prison sentence recommended in a pre-sentence report. "The only reason it's not longer is because you have no criminal history," he told Quintero.
The sentencing hearing was the final step in a criminal process that began in November 2013, when the victim was 14 years old. The victim was not a resident of Delta, but occasionally spent weekends here with the Quintero family.
Quintero will be required to undergo sex offender treatment and to register as a sex offender.