Alleged Fullerton Groper, Molester Held; Judge Too Lenient with Sentence: Court

Alleged Fullerton Groper, Molester Held; Judge Too Lenient with Sentence: Court
Jay Brockman

A Fullerton man, 20, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl he met via social media.

A 35-year-old man was arrested because police say he grabbed two female students in the crotch at Fullerton College.

An appeals court reversed an Orange County Superior Court judge’s controversial sentence for a convicted child molester, ruling the defendant should spend many more years behind bars. But at least the crime didn't happen in Fullerton. (It was Santa Ana.)

Benny Kim was arrested Jan. 26 on suspicion of sex with a minor and related charges. A joint investigation by the Fontana Unified School District and Fontana Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force claims that Kim had been conversing with the teen over social media sites, in texts and on the phone. He allegedly sent the girl pornographic images of himself to her and sought such pictures and videos from her. Unspecified evidence also revealed he had sexually assaulted the 14-year-old, according to investigators.

The 35-year-old suspect's name and mugshot have not been released due to the ongoing investigation of the Fullerton College groping case. The women were sexually assaulted several minutes apart starting after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on the walkway separating the campus music and theater arts buildings. He was last seen running toward Lemon Street. A safety advisory was issued at the college, and the following day  campus safety officers detained a man who was acting erratic and displaying signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance. He matched the description of the groper, according to city and campus police. But the probe continues, and anyone with information is asked to call the Fullerton Police Family Crimes Division at 714.738.6580.

Judge Kelly's sentencing and remarks led to a recall campaign.
Judge Kelly's sentencing and remarks led to a recall campaign.
Committee to Recall Judge Marc Kelly

Judge M. Marc Kelly, who sparked national outcry and an unsuccessful recall campaign in April 2015 when he shaved 15 years from the mandatory 25 years to life minimum sentence for Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto, had his sentence overturned by a unanimous three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District last week. Rojano-Nieto was 19 when he sexually assaulted the 3-year-old girl relative after she wandered into a Santa Ana garage where he was playing video games. The girl told her mother, who took her to a hospital clinic where a nurse performed a sexual-assault examination. Part of Kelly's rationale for the lighter sentence was Rojano-Nieto apparently snapping out of it and stopping the attack when he realized what he was doing was wrong. "We do not agree with the trial court's assessment of the significance of Rojano's actions," reads the appellate ruling.

"Although the trial court minimized the serious nature of Rojano's molestation of Jane Doe by characterizing it as happening 'in an instant' and stopping 'within seconds' when Rojano 'realized the wrongfulness of his act,' the trial court ignored important undisputed evidence about the entire scope of Rojano's actions. ... The trial court found it significant that Jane Doe 'did not suffer serious violent physical injuries' and contrasted Rojano's case with a 'violent brutal sodomy of a child case.' We do not agree with this analysis. Violent physical injury is not what makes the crime of sodomy against a young child a serious and horrific crim . Put simply, a sex offense against a small child is a grave offense because of the vulnerable nature of the victim and the risk of psychological harm to the child, regardless of any associated physical injury." The justices concluded "that Rojano committed a grave and serious offense when he sodomized Jane Doe,” the three-judge panel wrote. “Therefore, a sentence of 25-years-to-life is not grossly disproportionate to the crime and does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” Rojano-Nieto was ordered returned to Orange County from state prison to be re-sentenced to at least 25 years. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, whose office has filed the appeal but is mired in scandal, applauded a much-needed win. "This was a good day for child victims of brutal sex assaults and the People of Orange County," he says in a statement.


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