SANTA ANA — A 20-year-old Buena Park man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting two girls, ages 6 and 7, at the Anaheim daycare center where he worked.
Daniel Antonio Martinez pleaded guilty in August to three counts of lewd acts on a child 14 and younger and three counts of sexual penetration of a child 10 and younger, according to Deputy District Attorney Rick Zimmer. He was sentenced last week.
Martinez sexually assaulted the girls between the beginning of August and November 2016, Zimmer said.
The 6-year-old told a relative on Nov. 9, 2016, that she was feeling pain, which ultimately prompted the family to call police. Additional investigation led police to the second victim.
Martinez’s attorney, Shane Bernard, acknowledged that his client agreed to a plea deal from prosecutors, but said it would be better if the defendant had a shorter prison sentence and received rehabilitation instead.
“Not to negate the harmful nature of the alleged conduct whatsoever, but this was a young man who was just starting his adult life” at 18 when he assaulted the girls, Bernard said.
He said a life sentence was “egregious and unjust” under the circumstances, Bernard told Orange County Superior Court Judge Gary Paer.
Zimmer said he was “a little shocked” at the defense attorney’s comments since the sentence was agreed upon when the defendant pleaded guilty.
If Martinez had been convicted at trial he would have faced 75 years to life in prison, Zimmer said. Because of the defendant’s age he would have been eligible for a parole hearing in 25 years anyway, the prosecutor said.
“The circumstances of this case, frankly, your honor, were horrific,” Zimmer told the judge.
Martinez was a part-time employee who “used his position to gain access to two girls, one 6 and the other 7,” Zimmer said. “And he did this more than once to more than one victim.”
Paer said he agreed with Zimmer.
“This is a very serious case,” he said, adding the victims were “extremely vulnerable.”
“He violated his position of trust. He was supposed to be a protector, not an abuser,” the judge said.
Paer noted that many of the defendant’s family members were in court, so he had a “huge support system,” and if he takes advantage of counseling programs in prison he could bolster his plea for parole.
The judge said, however, “Cases like these call for huge sentences.”
The crimes result in “huge negative effects” for the victims, Paer said.
Source: Orange County Register