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June 11, 2014 | 02:19 PMELKHORN — A Lake Geneva man who sexually assaulted a developmentally disabled girl was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Wednesday morning by Judge David Reddy.
In April, a jury found Roberto Sanchez-Nova, 20, guilty of first-degree sexual assault of a child. Reddy also sentenced Sanchez-Nova to six years of extended supervision.
“This is a case where a 10-year-old girl was sexually assaulted,” Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube said. “And by all accounts she functions at about a first-grade level.”
Grube said the the victim’s family allowed Sanchez-Nova to stay in their home after he was kicked out of his parent’s house. At the home, Sanchez-Nova sexually assaulted the girl.
In March 2013, the girl disclosed the assault to her mother. The night the victim made the disclosure, her mother hid in the victim’s closet and waited for Sanchez-Nova. When Sanchez-Nova entered the victim’s room he attempted to assault the girl, but the victim’s mother exited the closet and chased him out of the house.
Grube said girl’s disability made it difficult for her to describe the sexual assault to police.
“I submit to you that is exactly why he picked her,” Grube said. “That she would be unwilling or unable to tell.”
Sanchez-Nova groomed the girl for the assault and bought her candy to keep her quiet, Grube said.
“He confused her, she didn’t really understand what was happening,” Grube said.
During the hearing, the victim’s aunt said the sexual assault changed her niece.
“She is quiet, withdrawn and she can’t make eye contact,” the victim’s aunt said during the hearing.
In the child’s victim impact statement, she wrote that she fears going outside without her older brothers, and that she fears that Sanchez-Nova will attempt to hurt her again.
“Her life changed. She is on a completely different path now, and it is the defendant’s fault,” Grube said. “He was banking on the fact that she wouldn’t talk about it.”
The victim’s aunt added that the girl has been acting out and isn’t the “bubbly” person she once was.
“She is scared of you, and I’m proud of her for standing up to you,” the woman said.
During the jury trial, both Sanchez-Nova and the victim testified.
“(She had to) get on a witness stand and talk about it... being humiliated,” Grube said. “She turned completely away from him during the testimony.”
Grube asked for a prison sentence consistent to the one recommended by the Department of Corrections, which recommended a sentence of between 16 and 20 years of initial confinement.
Sanchez-Nova’s attorney, John Dade, said he understood his client was heading to prison, but he argued that his client shouldn’t be incarcerated for more than a decade.
“Decades of prison are reserved for the worse facts and the worse defendants,” Dade said. “I don’t mean to depreciate what he was convicted of at all.”
During the hearing, Dade listed a number of other defendants who were convicted of first-degree sexual assault of a child, but received sentences shorter than the one the DOC recommended for his client.
Dade added that his client doesn’t have any prior criminal record.
Sanchez-Nova declined to address the court.
When handing down his sentence, Reddy said Sanchez-Nova needed to go to prison for the protection of the public.
“The public, particularly children, need to be protected from manipulating defendants like this,” Reddy said. “The character of the defendant is one who grooms a vulnerable, developmentally disabled, 10-year-old girl.”