Orange County Judge's Lenient Sentence Of Child Rapist Reversed
In April of 2015, Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly drew outrage when he sentenced a convicted child rapist to a mere 10 years in prison, despite the 25-year minimum sentence for such a crime. Now, the 4th District Court of Appeal has unanimously decided to reverse that sentencing, the OC Register reports. Kevin Jones Rojano-Nieto, then 20, committed a crime that, we must warn you, was particularly graphic. In 2014, he sodomized a three-year-old female relative after she had wandered into a garage where he had been playing video games. During the assault, Rojano-Nieto locked the door of the garage to prevent the child from leaving, and held his hand over her mouth when her mother knocked on the door looking for her. The girl's mother later became aware something had happened when the girl complained of pain and her mother discovered tearing.
While Rojano-Nieto's actions indicated he knew that what he was doing was wrong, as statedby Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky, Kelly still clipped 15 years off of Rojano-Nieto's sentence, and bafflingly stated that to sentence Rojano-Nieto to 25 years to life would be "cruel and unusual." Rojano-Nieto, he argued, was not out actively seeking a victim, yet had become "inexplicably" aroused when the child entered the garage. Kelly said that Rojano-Nieto did not "consciously intend to harm [the victim] when he sexually assaulted her." He called the assault "fairly benign" as far as attacks on children go, and predicted that because the victim was so young and seemed to be a "happy, healthy child" at the time of sentencing, she would probably go on to have a normal life. He also argued that the assault was short in duration:
In an instant, he [the defendant] reacted to a sexual urge and stopped almost immediately after he put his penis in [the victim's] anus. Within seconds of commencing his offense, he realized the wrongfulness of his act and stopped without ejaculating. Although serious and despicable, this does not compare to a situation where a pedophilic child predator preys on an innocent child. There was no violence or callous disregard for [the victim's] well being.
If that upsets you, you wouldn't be alone. Numerous people advocated for Kelly to be recalled and for the sentence to be thrown out and replaced with a stricter one. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said that he "vehemently" disagreed with Kelly's ruling.
The three-judge panel that reversed Kelly's ruling wrote that Rojano-Nieto's crime was "a serious and grave offense," and that a sentence of 25 years to life was therefore "not grossly disproportionate to the crime and does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution."
Rackauckas said he was pleased with the decision. "This was a good day for child victims of brutal sex assaults and the people of Orange County," he said in a statement, according to ABC 7.
Kelly's controversial ruling came a year before Judge Aaron Perksy would sentence convicted rapist Brock Turner to only a mere six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.