Imade A. Jati didn't know that the call from his daughter was being recorded or that the questions he was being asked had been written by Matt Ricci, a veteran Irvine police detective.
So, when the high school senior asked her father if he'd promise never to have sex with her again, he replied, "Absolutely, absolutely," according to court records.
The girl repeated the question and Jati replied, "No, I won't."
But after his arrest for molesting and raping his daughter more than 200 times since she was nine years old and in the third grade, Jati testified that his statements during the recorded call had been nothing more than "role playing."
He claimed that his daughter was a "game player" who'd made false incest assertions because she'd been mad with him for sleeping with another woman who was not his wife.
Neither prosecutors in the Orange County District Attorney's office nor a jury bought the explanation. Jati was found guilty in 2010 and Superior Court Judge Gregg L. Prickett decided to issue tough punishment. Prickett sent Jati, then 55 years old, to a California prison for the next 80 years.
Jati appealed his conviction. He claimed he'd been improperly convicted and that his punishment is excessive. At worst, he thinks he should have been placed on probation.
He also asserted that his defense lawyer had rendered ineffective counsel because he refused to argue Jati's proposed mitigating sentencing argument: He'd been careful during the rapes, if they occurred, not to get his daughter pregnant by pulling out and ejaculating on her stomach or in his hand.
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"We cannot fault the defense counsel for failing to make such a cynical argument," ruled California Court of Appeal Justice Kathleen O'Leary. "We doubt there is even a remote possibility it would have persuaded the trial court to impose a lesser sentence."
In the end, O'Leary and justices William Bedsworth and Eileen Moore decided this month that the evidence proved Jati had abused his position as a father. They upheld the convictions.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly