Should a person who victimizes the disabled be allowed a short sentence?

18 Feb

A recent case in the Los Angeles area involved the sexual assaults of women in group homes. The case came to light when videos of the assaults were provided to the police. At least two of the assailants have been identified.

One of them has pled “no contest” to the charges. In return he is being offered a reduced sentence: 8 years (down from a maximum possible of 27). He would have to serve at least 85% of the time, and would have to register as a sex offender.

The deal is not sitting well with everyone:

The mother of one of the victims, a Rosemead woman, said that the deal came as a surprise and that she hoped the judge would reject it.

“Eight years is nothing for all the damage he has done to all these kids and their families,” the mother said.

A spokesperson for the LA district attorney’s office is quoted as:

“With these kinds of cases we never want to subject the victims to more trauma, and this was a difficult case because of the victims’ disabilities,” she said. “We felt that this [resolution] was appropriate.”

I am left with the question of whether the victims approached on this plea deal. Were the victims willing to testify, it should be their decision. The rationale put forth by the DA’s office that this is to prevent further trauma.

ARCA, the Association of Regional Center Agencies, has come forward calling the plea deal an injustice:

The Association of Regional Center Agencies, an advocacy group representing 21 California regional centers serving children and adults with developmental disabilities, says the plea bargain for Juan Fernando Flores is an injustice.

7 Responses to “Should a person who victimizes the disabled be allowed a short sentence?”

  1. sharon February 18, 2011 at 14:33 #

    @Sullivan, I imagine in order for the prosecution to argue the full possible sentence the alleged victims would need to testify. Perhaps it is in the best interests of the direct victims not to. Of course most people, particularly the family, would want those who exploited these vulnerable women to pay the greatest price. But concern for the victims being potentially retraumatised has to take precedent. Having worked in the area of trauma, including sexual assault, it would not surprise me if this decision is being made on the basis of both pragmatic legalities, and with a view to protecting the victims from further stress.

  2. Joseph February 18, 2011 at 17:15 #

    I don’t understand the rationale for the deal. The evidence appears rock solid. So what if the guy plead not guilty?

  3. stanley seigler February 18, 2011 at 20:34 #

    [LBRB say] ARCA, the Association of Regional Center Agencies, has come forward calling the plea deal an injustice:

    in CA-USA, the regional centers are the agencies are responsible for the support and safety of the least…

    following are some comments and a news article (posted to other list)…

    stanley seigler

    the following:

    An advocacy group is calling for a judge to overturn a plea bargain of eight years in prison for a man accused of raping three mentally retarded women at an El Monte adult day care facility…Arc filed a brief asking the judge to send the case to trial. [ref say]


    difficult to comment…cant imagine how we let this happen…and now the CA gov wants to put the least more at risk to this disgusting behavior by a $750M cut to already unsafe programs…BTW;

    to how many years will the agencies/providers that allowed this outrage happen be sentenced…will they even acknowledge their responsibility to prevent this abuse…

    stanley seigler

    Ref xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    In a message dated 2/18/2011 10:31:07 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, maureen66@AOL.COM writes:

    Advocacy group blasts plea bargain in rape case of mentally disabled women in El Monte By Ben Baeder, Staff Writer Posted:02/16/2011 05:34:54 PM PST

    An advocacy group is calling for a judge to overturn a plea bargain of eight years in prison for a man accused of raping three mentally retarded women at an El Monte adult day care facility.

    Juan Fernando Flores, 43, is scheduled to be sentenced today in Pomona Superior Court for one count of rape and two counts of penetration with a foreign object.

    The hearing is scheduled in the courtroom of Judge Mike Camacho.

    Flores confessed to sexually abusing three women ages 24 to 54 while he worked as a cook and bus driver at the Healthy Start adult day care center, El Monte Police Detective Ralph Batres said.

    The assaults took place over the course of a little more than a year, Batres said.

    Flores was arrested May 7. His attorney, Pete Navarro, did not return a call for comment. And the director at Healthy Start, which is now named New Day, did not return a call for comment.

    A lawyer with an advocacy group for people with disabilities blasted the plea bargain.

    “This sends the message that if you abuse disabled people, it won’t be that bad for you,” said Thomas F. Coleman, an attorney with Arc of California. “The message should be that you get double the punishment.”

    If convicted of raping all three women, Flores could have faced up to 27 years in prison.

    With time served in county jail, Flores would likely be released in about six years.

    Arc filed a brief asking the judge to send the case to


    A spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office said prosecutors sought to avoid forcing the women to take the stand, which would have opened them to cross examination.

    “We did not want to put these victims through more trauma,” said D.A. spokeswoman Jane Robison.

    Batres said he understood the reasons for the plea bargain, especially if the women were unable to testify.

    Batres said a parent of one of the mentally retarded women originally reported a sexual assault to the police. Flores then admitted to the rapes, according to Batres.

    “All we have is the confession, that’s it,” he said. “If he recants, that introduces some doubt.”

    While Coleman has never met the women or their families, he wondered if prosecutors ever entertained the idea of having one of them testify.

    “I think the prosecution botched the case,” he said.

    Batres said he is willing to live with the plea bargain.

    “It’s not what I’d like, that’s my own opinion, but, you know that’s just how this kind of thing happens,” he said.

    Flores will likely have a horrible time during his incarceration, Batres said.

    “Being a sex offender in jail, you’re basically a target,” Batres said. “He’s going to be watching his back everyday.”
    626-962-8811, ext. 2230

  4. Clay February 19, 2011 at 09:43 #

    “Should a person who victimizes the disabled be allowed a short sentence?”

    Only if the “sentence” is, “Guilty, your Honor”.

    Otherwise, the sentence should be at least half again (50% more), or maybe twice the sentence for raping a non-disabled person.

    Why would they need the testimony of the victim or a confession, when they have him on tape?

  5. Carolyn February 20, 2011 at 01:01 #

    The Pomona case is not the same case as the one involving multiple perpetrators and multiple victims. This man confessed after it took over a year for one of the victims in the case to be heard and the prosecutors follow-up on the case. In that year other victims were abused it seems.

    The prosecutors should have discussed the plea bargain with the families and the judge, who did accept this plea, should have at least heard the witness impact statements before discussing his intentions in court.

  6. Carolyn February 20, 2011 at 01:05 #

    “El Monte day-care rapist gets 8 years”

    This is a different case than the LA County case where suspects were caught on video.

  7. Sullivan February 22, 2011 at 22:25 #


    thanks for that. I thought I remembered the cases well enough to go by names of the accused, but I am clearly wrong in that and should have done more checking.

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