Judge facing recall over reduced sentence for child rapist may have been influenced by victim's parents

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- A  judge who is facing a backlash for sentencing a man who raped a 3-year-old girl to 10 years in prison instead of the state mandatory minimum of 25 years may have been influenced by the victim's parents.

While the fallout from the sentencing of Kevin Nieto Rojano continues, court documents reviewed by KTLA provided some insight as to what may have motivated the judge to go so light on the defendant.

At his sentencing a week ago, Rojano was facing a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life in prison for sodomizing the 3-year-old girl. But the judge said that sentence would be “cruel and unusual punishment” given the circumstances of the case. Judge M. Marc Kelly instead sentenced Rojano to only 10 years in prison.

In an explanation of his ruling that has further fired up critics and resulted in calls from the public and three members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors for a recall campaign, Judge M. Marc Kelly said:

“Mr. Rojano did not seek out or stalk (the victim). He was playing video games and she wandered into the garage. He inexplicably became sexually aroused but did not appear to consciously intend to harm (the victim)…”

“Although serious and despicable, this does not compare to a situation where a pedophiliac child predator preys on an innocent child.”

However, a review of a victim impact statement given at a hearing several weeks before the final sentencing, showed the judge may have been persuaded by the victim’s parents, who are also related to the defendant.

In the parents’ joint statement read by the little girl’s father, the father told the judge:

“I know in my heart that Kevin understands the gravity of his actions and that he laments his mistakes. His decision to turn to God during this hardship is a direct attempt to seek help. Kevin is a good person that has endured childhood traumas … He requires rehabilitation that focuses on psychological healing as a preventive measure, and not solely on retribution … My wife wants to ask for forgiveness for Kevin’s transgressions and for the opportunity to have a second chance at liberty.”

Kelly seemed moved by the parents’ comments.

“The letter you just read to me is probably one of the most heartfelt I have heard in a long time,” he told the father.

“I can give you my assurance that I will incorporate your thoughts … (and) give you the benefit of my full analysis and use all of my judicial experience and my experience in humanity to try to fashion a sentence which is appropriate.”

When he announced his controversial 10-year sentence a week ago, the judge also noted that an independently appointed psychologist found that Rojano posed a low risk for recidivism.