EC man sentenced to 18 years for molesting child
BY Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com March 7, 2013 8:36PM
Updated: March 29, 2013 4:08PM
A federal judge sentenced an East Chicago man to 18 years in prison as the 11-year-old girl he molested and took pornographic images of looked on from the audience.
Dante Christopher Vasquez, 44, apologized to his family and the girl’s family for “misusing the trust they had in me with their children,” he told U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen during the hearing Friday afternoon.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster read a letter from the “very brave and very confident” girl, who wrote she was upset that Vasquez had apologized to everyone but her.
“I want an apology from Dante,” she wrote.
The girl, who was 5 to 7 years old when the molestation happened, said she’s still trying to deal with her emotions and that she doesn’t understand how Vasquez could do something so horrible after her family gave him so much.
The girl’s mother spoke during the hearing and described how her daughter started having nightmares after she drew a picture of Vasquez and said she was afraid he would kidnap her.
Other people who know Vasquez blame the girl and her family in the case, the mother said, and she also has to live with seeing the pornographic images to confirm the girl in them was her daughter.
“Those pictures burn in my brain every single day,” the mother said.
Vasquez was charged in federal court a year ago after his case was moved from Lake County. The girl’s parents alerted police in 2010 when she started crying when they tried to take her picture and she told them that Vasquez had taken pictures of her naked.
The girl later told police that Vasquez told her he wouldn’t take her to Chuck E. Cheese if she didn’t take part.
Vasquez pleaded guilty in July to one count of producing child pornography, and federal sentencing guidelines recommended he serve up to 30 years in prison.
However, the plea agreement came with a binding recommendation that Judge Van Bokkelen sentence Vasquez to 210 months in prison if he accepted it.
Koster said during the hearing that she knew that sentence would be far below the federal guideline but that the government wanted to spare the victim from testifying in court and that the family supported it.
Vasquez’s attorney, Paul Stracci, said during the hearing that Vasquez was sorry for what he had done and asked that the victim’s family eventually forgive him.
“He comes to the court with a heart frankly full of sorrow,” Stracci said.
He added that his client had a troubled childhood of his own, including being molested himself.
Vasquez must serve 20 years of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.