On Friday, March 9th, Nestor Saavedra was sentenced in front of Union County Judge William A. Daniel. Mr. Saavedra had previously pleaded guilty on January 24, 2018, to criminal sexual contact.
Mr. Saavedra was arrested on November 16th of last year and charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. Mr. Saavedra was tutoring the victim in his Roselle Park home when he admitted to fondling the breast of the 13-year-old girl – ‘for the purpose of [his] sexual gratification’.
As a mother, I am so mad but as a Christian person I think this is enough for him and I hope he understands what he did” – Victim’s mother
“No, your honor,” was the defendant’s response.
The judge noted that the victim’s parents were in the audience as those in the courtroom heard Union County Prosecutor Meghan Tomlinson read a statement written by the victim’s mother.
First of all, I would like to thank God, the state, and the honorable judge and all people who are helping me with my daughter. I apologize that I couldn’t talk by myself because I am nervous and I have a lot of feelings inside of me . . . But in a few words, I would like to let you know how I feel and how my daughter is feeling about this incident. Our lives completely changed in all ways. This incident is affecting her life too much. She’s crying all the time. She’s scared of people, especially adults. She thinks that this would happen to her again. She is angry and out of the world most of the times. As a mom, I am so sad and frustrated for the situation that my daughter has to live [with] in her short life. Also, I cannot understand why this happened to her. I talked a lot with my daughter and I tried to explain to her that sometimes in life we can find good and bad people and [that] we have to take care of them more but she has to not be scared. She answers me that I said that because I am not her because she is the person who has to deal with this problem. I said to her this is true. This is a trauma for both of us but as a mother, I would like to be in your place. I would rather to be the person who suffered this [and] not you. This is something that you don’t understand now but I am even worse than you. As a mother, I have to deal with your feelings and my feelings when I have to see this person in court. My experience being in court [and] dealing with this problem was so horrible and sad for me and I am so nervous most of the time but thanks to the prosecutor and Anna Maria who were all the time with me giving the support that I needed. Finally, as a Catholic person, I think that the sentence for this person is good. As a mother, I am so mad but as a Christian person I think this is enough for him and I hope he understands what he did and never again destroy the life of a child. I hope with time, God helps me to forget him and this incident. Thank you.”
Judge Daniel remarked, “I heard what you wrote out loud and clear and my thoughts are with you and your family. You can tell your daughter I said that. She’s a very strong girl. Is she 13?”
“Yes,” was the response from the victim’s mother.
“13,” continued Judge Daniel, “A very strong person to come forward and bring this information to the police. Tell your daughter I believe in her and I know you and your family will come through this.”
The judge asked the prosecutor if there was anything she wanted to add.
Ms. Tomlinson stated, “I think this was a fair plea deal so I ask the court to sentence Mr. Saavedra in accordance with the deal.”
The judge then went through the sentencing procedure, saying. “I read all about you as well as the victim of the crime that you committed in the pre-sentence report. The plea agreement is fair. I will sentence the defendant in accordance with the terms of the plea agreement . . . The defendant does not have any prior convictions on his record whatsoever [but] there’s a strong need to deter this defendant as well as others from violating the law.”
The judge added that although he felt that Mr. Saavedra would be a good probationer who would likely respond to probationary treatment, the strong need to deter Mr. Saavedra and others from committing such crimes outweighs any mitigating factors. He concluded, “But the defendant gets the benefit of the plea agreement.”
Judge Daniel reviewed the terms of the plea agreement which included two years of probation and a list of fees and fines that totaled over $1,675 – not including Mr. Saavedra attorney fees.
All other counts were dismissed and the defendant received seven days of jail credits for time served from November 16th to November 22nd of last year.
“You know you’re going to have to register as a Megan’s Law offender, correct and you have gone over that information with your attorney already, correct?”, asked Judge Daniel after adding that Mr. Saavedra will also have to surrender his teaching credentials. He must also submit to a DNA sample and comply with a SORA which is a Sex Offense Restraining Order. It restricts Mr. Saavedra from any and all contact with the victim be it written, oral, electronic, in person or any other form. He is prohibited from going to her residence, school, or – in future – the workplace.
Judge Daniel explained, “This order remains in full force and effect unless modified or terminated by further order of the court or unless until the prosecutor dismisses moves to vacate the order . . . If you violate this order, sir, your conduct may constitute criminal contempt and could result in your arrest and criminal prosecution and if convicted you could receive up to 18 months in prison for that – it’s a fourth-degree crime. Bottom line is, do not violate this order.”
Judge notified that Mr. Saavedra has a right to appeal the sentencing within 45 days with a 30-day extension if applied within the 45 day appeal period.
With that, 123 days after the commission of the crime, Nestor Saavedra was sentenced for the crime of criminal sexual contact – a fourth-degree crime, against a 13-year-old student.