Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Child molester sentenced to 20 years in prison

Peruvian citizen faces deportation following release

Express Staff Writer

Court Marshal Dale Crowther escorts convicted child molester Ovidio Ricaldi-Villajuan from 5th District Court in Hailey following sentencing Tuesday afternoon. Ricaldi-Villajuan, a Peruvian citizen, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Photo by Willy Cook

A Peruvian citizen was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday afternoon for molesting a 4-year-old girl in Hailey almost a year ago.

Ovidio Ricaldi-Villajuan, a 24-year-old Hailey resident, must serve three years in prison before he's eligible for parole. Once released, the defendant, who court records allege is an illegal immigrant, faces deportation to Peru.

Ricaldi-Villajuan pleaded guilty last April to a felony charge of lewd conduct with a minor child under 16, a crime punishable in Idaho by up to life in prison. He was accused of touching the girl's genitals during a sexual encounter on Winterhaven Drive in southern Hailey on the morning of Nov. 11, 2006. The defendant has been incarcerated on $50,000 bond since his arrest.

Fifth District Court Judge Barry Wood sentenced Ricaldi-Villajuan to a prison term exceeding the recommendation of the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which asked for a sentence of five years in prison with three of them to be served before parole eligibility.

Wood said he based his sentence heavily on a psychosexual evaluation, which reported that the defendant is an alcoholic who loses self-control and has violent tendencies when intoxicated. The report concluded that there is a high probability that the defendant would commit another crime if he drinks alcohol.

Wood also considered a statement from the 4-year-old victim, who told investigators that she had been molested by Ricaldi-Villajuan on at least one other occasion.

Rupert attorney David Pena, who is representing Ricaldi-Villajuan, asked the court to sentence his client to time already served, which was 325 days as of Tuesday. Pena told the court that Ricalid-Villajuan has spent his time in jail studying the Bible and is trying to improve his life.

Pena pointed out that evaluations showed that the defendant is not a pedophile and that he has no other criminal convictions.

He further said that Ricaldi-Villajuan was highly intoxicated during the incident with the child and has no recollection of what happened.

"He's indicated to me that he's very remorseful for what happened, even though he can't remember," Pena said. "This is not a young man who needs to be sent away for any number of years."

Wood gave Ricaldi-Villajuan credit for time already served in jail. He was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay the victim another $5,000 as a civil penalty allowed by law.

"It's clear that there is harm here, and long-lasting harm," Wood said. The judge emphasized that lewd conduct with a minor child is considered a crime of violence in Idaho.

The mother of the child was present in the court but declined to testify.

Court proceedings against Ricaldi-Villajuan have required the services of a Spanish-speaking court since the defendant is not fluent in English.

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