A 59-year-old man was slapped yesterday with the maximum 10-year prison term for fondling six girls with ages ranging from 4 to 12 years old.
Aquilino Castillo, a carpenter, was also ordered to register as a sex offender and pay a $200 fine and $100 court assessment fee.
“Our society has declared a campaign against sexual abuse of children and this court supports such campaign as it is not an activity that is or can be a part of this society's traditions,” said Superior Court Associate Judge David A. Wiseman at the sentencing.
The judge underscored the importance of sending a strong message to potential offenders and adults who terrorize, perpetrate, and violate the innocence of minors.
Wiseman said that Castillo's own lawyer, assistant public defender Benjamin K. Petersburg, acknowledged that the defendant's conduct was reprehensible, serious, and deplorable.
Castillo pleaded guilty on Sept. 14, 2012, to one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars and up to a $10,000 fine.
According to the plea agreement, in the summer of 2011, Castillo, then 58 years old, touched or grabbed the genitals of six girls, between the ages of four and 12, over their clothing.
Assistant attorney general Nicole Driscoll recommended the full maximum sentence for Castillo because of the number of victims and their ages.
Driscoll said that Castillo's conduct was extreme and disturbing. She said the victims belong to four different families in a neighborhood.
Petersburg pushed for a sentence of 10 years in prison, all suspended except for the first six years plus probation.
Petersburg said the conduct involved in the case is clearly reprehensible, but is not so egregious as to warrant the maximum sentence.
He cited many sentences handed out by the Superior Court in similar cases, including 53-year-old Juan R. Babauta who pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree involving a 12-year-old girl. Babauta was sentenced to five years in prison, all suspended except for 30 months.
Petersburg said that Castillo's case involved touching on the outside of the girls' clothes. This, he said, is “clearly less egregious” than conduct involving contact under clothing, contact with the offender's genital, or one involving sexual penetration.
Petersburg also noted that there has been no evidence presented that the girls involved in this case required medical attention or counseling, or that their behavior has changed in a negative way as a result of Castillo's actions.
The defense lawyer said Castillo has lived on Saipan for nearly 20 years, is not married but has three children in the Philippines.