Man gets three years in sex case
March 30, 2005
Editors note: The Craig Daily Press has a policy of not naming victims of sexual crimes. However, in previous reporting about this case, we quoted the victim and her parents, who wanted to share their story.
Tears flowed freely in District Court on Tuesday when Judge Paul McLimans handed down the toughest sentence possible — three years in prison for a Craig man who pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a minor.
Robert Garcia, 34, had time to hug his children and say a quick “I love you,” before being escorted out of the courtroom in black-and-white striped jail attire and handcuffs that he wore during the entire 1 1/2-hour-long proceeding.
All were in tears.
Garcia pleaded guilty Jan. 11 in an agreement in which two other felony charges were dropped.
Garcia admitted to having a relationship with 15-year-old Rachelle Germond, who at the time of the relationship was 13. He attempted to apologize to Germond on Tuesday, but she kept leaving the courtroom in tears.
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“I can’t change what happened,” Garcia said. “It’s impacted (Germond), it’s impacted her family. It’s impacted me and my family.
“I do want to better myself,” he told the court. “I just want a chance to better myself.”
His attorney, Sheryl Uhlmann, argued that if the court sentenced probation, it would have a hold over Garcia for a longer period of time. Uhlmann also argued that a Redirecting Sexual Aggression report concluded Garcia had a low to moderate chance of recidivism, which could be reduced through treatment.
“He is somebody who can follow the rules of probation and has done so in the past,” Uhlmann said. “It would be a misuse of resources to send him to prison at this point.”
That Garcia has “followed the rules of probation in the past” weighed heavily against him in McLiman’s ruling.
Garcia has once before faced a felony charge of sexual assault on a child.
The charges were deferred and eventually dismissed.
But they were not forgotten.
“The court tends to view (RSA reports) with some degree of suspicion in their ability to predict future behavior,” McLimans said. “The court agrees the best indication of future conduct is past conduct.”
He said Garcia continued his relationship with Germond even though he had past experience with the court system in a similar case and had been warned by her parents.
“You disregarded what should have been very apparent red flags,” McLimans said. “I don’t know where this would have ended were it not for the involvement of law enforcement.”
Garcia’s three-year sentence will be reduced by 79 days — the number of days he already has served. Upon his release, he’ll be subject to two years probation and a lifetime of registering as a sex offender. In addition, he was assessed, nearly $5,000 in fines.
“The court recognizes this is the most stringent penalty the court can impose. This is simply a serious offense, and the court has serious responses for such offenses,” McLimans said.
Both the victim and her mother spoke, requesting the maximum penalty.
“I don’t know why he chose me,” Germond said while crying. “I didn’t do anything to him. I tried to be his friend.
Germond is receiving counseling and being treated for depression, which her mother attributes to Garcia’s actions.
“Because of Mr. Garcia, my child has been emotionally harmed and might never be the same again,” Germond’s mother said. “I would hate for this to happen to somebody else’s child.”
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.