We know of Butterfield's predilection, in part, because on the night of Aug. 4, 2000, he and his wife, Charmaine, got a group of high-school teenagers drunk and eventually invited two of them–a 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy–to their bedroom for a wild night of sexual intercourse.
The couple (parents of four children) might have escaped criminal liability if not for the collision of three pesky facts:
•It is illegal in California to have sex with a minor even if the minor is a willing participant.
•Teenagers are notorious blabbermouths, especially about sex.
•Cops don't ignore lewd-conduct tales involving kids.
Yes, word of the wife-swap sex romp eventually leaked. Police made their arrests, and the Butterfields pleaded guilty. For punishment, a judge went easy. Robert got 180 days in the Orange County Jail, and Charmaine got 30 days.
Sadly, incarceration didn't rehabilitate or discourage Robert from his taste for twisted sex.
We know this thanks to Aaron Parsons, an on-the-ball Costa Mesa cop.
At about 10 p.m. on July 24, 2005, Parsons drove his patrol car by the Ana Mesa Motel on Harbor Boulevard. Through Room 218's second-floor window, he spotted an alarming physical attack. A large man was choking a girl, tossing her across the room, and grabbing a knife and threatening to “shank” her.
The abuser? Butterfield.
The victim: Butterfield's own 16-year-old daughter, who would later tell authorities that she'd been routinely beaten, raped, sodomized and forced to perform oral copulation on her father since the age of 7. She had the scars to prove it.
After a 2008 trial, a jury convicted Butterfield for molesting his oldest daughter as well as a second one during a two-year period starting when she was just 11 years old. Prosecutor Tony Ferrentino also presented evidence that Butterfield repeatedly abused his two sons, ages 4 and 5.
Last Friday, I watched a tiny Vietnamese deputy escort a nonchalant, handcuffed Butterfield into a Santa Ana courtroom to learn his fate. He plopped his large ass in a seat and looked rather smug for a guy facing 139 years in state prison. Then I learned why.
Before Superior Court Judge James Stotler could announce punishment, Butterfield played his last card. He demanded a new lawyer. Stotler, saying he didn't want to give the court of appeal any cause to overturn the guilty verdicts, chose caution. He postponed sentencing and scheduled a session to hear Butterfield's complaint.
At least for several more months, Butterfield will evade spending the remainder of his life in a California prison cell.
(Wednesdays at OCWeekly.com, discover the depths of human depravity in Orange County, California.)
Click HERE for previous “Citizen of the Week!” winners.
— R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.