— A 48-year-old man convicted of three felonies in November for fondling a 10-year-old girl will serve three years and six months in prison after he was sentenced in Circuit Court.
At a hearing Wednesday, Judge Michael E. McGinty sentenced Erasto Columna Romero to a total of 55 years, with all but three years and six months suspended, on charges of abduction with intent to defile, indecent liberties with a child under age 15 and aggravated sexual battery of a child under age 13.
The now 11-year-old victim's father told the court Wednesday that what happened to his daughter last summer has affected her as well as their entire family. He said they moved out of their apartment complex on Merrimac Trail after the incident and his daughter changed schools. He also noted that she is in counseling.
Maureen Kufro, assistant commonwealth's attorney, read a portion of the victim's impact statement aloud, "Now I don't want to go to the store because when a man is looking at me, I think he wants to do the same thing."
On June 5, the victim went to Columna Romero's apartment a few times looking for a friend, according to her testimony at trial. She said she returned around 7 p.m. that evening and was allowed inside by Columna Romero.
She told the court she went up to her friend's room, found she wasn't there and headed back downstairs where Columna Romero grabbed her as she was leaving. Columna Romero locked the door and touched her inappropriately.
Half a dozen witnesses for Columna Romero testified that the Columna Romero's actions were out of character. They called him good father and husband and a devout man who was active in his church and worked hard to support his family.
"I'm asking for mercy," Columna Romero said. "I'm asking the authorities to give me that chance. I'm asking the court not to separate me from my family."
He also asked both the victim and her father for mercy.
In addition to prison time, Columna Romero was ordered to have no contact with the victim, comply with any therapy or mental health counseling recommended and register as a sex offender.