The day finally came when Patrick would be sentenced, July 2007.
I called the counselor and we had a lengthy conversation. The counselor felt our child was strong enough emotionally to attend the hearing and that it might be a real healing experience. The counselor decided to attend as well in case anything unexpected happened. The sentencing would be the first time our child would see Patrick Rojas since we reported his crimes.
We were ushered into the courthouse by the child advocate. As we exited the elevator, the first thing I saw was Kathy Rojas praying on a bench with someone. I have always wondered what could she possibly been praying (especially since she knew her son was a guilty pedophile.) Would she actually pray for God to keep secret her son's crimes? As we proceeded down the hallway towards the courtroom I saw Patrick Rojas, Eddie Rojas, and the lawyer huddled in the corner. We went into a side room until it was closer to the start of the sentencing. The courtroom was packed. The judge even had people sitting up in the jurors area.
It was at the courthouse when the prosecutor told us there was a last minute request from Patrick's lawyer for a change of judge. Only the defendant can request a change in the judge. Instead of having a judge that regularly presided over similar types of cases, our case was now going before a judge that routinely sat over traffic violations. Unbelievable? Yes.
Grandma and Grandpa McBee stood and made a statement. The Dew's and the LLew's also came with a prepared statement to make. We decided that Eric would be the one to make the statement on behalf of our family, but we stood with him. When we were done the judge asked if anyone else wanted to make a statement and there were two individuals that spontaneously stood to make a statement on behalf of us. One of the women I would like to highlight stood and made a very heartfelt emotional statement from the perspective of and adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
Now, we had to return to court to find out if the judge would go along with the plea agreement or overrule it, which ended up being, August 17, 2007.
This final sentencing day in court had a very different feel about it. First, we didn't bring our child, there were less people from the church in attendance, and only Eddie and the older boys showed up in court, no Kathy or older girls.
The judge was the last hope for some kind of justice in our case. The judge did not have the authority to change the charges against Patrick but he did have the authority to over ride the plea agreement and sentence Patrick to the maximum for what he was charged. The maximum jail time for the gross-misdemeanor Patrick was charged with would have been 1 year in county jail.
If the judge would have read the evaluation he would have discovered that Patrick should have been charged with child molestation in the first degree which is a felony that held an 8 to 25 year sentence range. The evaluation held information proving that Patrick had 5 other minor victims. How could the judge just go with the original plea agreement. The original plea agreement was made with the belief that Patrick had kissed our child on the lips only.
But the judge should have known otherwise from the information in the evaluation. This process was so upsetting. Unjust! Maddening!
*From the information I gathered Judge W. Daniel Phillips retired in March 2009.
*This was from numerous posts:
Sentencing, Sentencing (cont.)7/26/09, Sentencing (cont.) 7/27/09 and The Judge