An audio recording of the January 24th hearing for Nestor Saavedra, which was obtained through a request to the Union County Courthouse, provides further detail on his guilty plea for criminal sexual contact in the 4th degree. Ten weeks earlier, Mr. Saavedra was arrested last November and charged with two felonies – third-degree endangering the welfare of a child and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact – for inappropriately touching a teenager.
During the hearing on his case last week, Mr. Saavedra admitted to fondling the breast of a 13-year-old girl whom he was tutoring privately in his home. The incident occurred on November 6th according to the court proceeding. Ten days later, after an investigation led by Roselle Park Police Detective John Deegan, Mr. Saavedra was arrested by Roselle Park Police.
The nine-minute hearing on January 24th had Judge Stuart Peim read through questions directed at Mr. Saavedra to establish the terms of the plea and confirm that the defendant was voluntarily – with full understanding and admittance of guilt – accepting the plea without force, threat or pressure from anyone. After five minutes of Mr. Saavedra answering a detailed long series of questions which included whether he was satisfied with his attorney’s services and if he understood that the plea would waive his right to a jury trial, Judge Peim read the recommended sentencing, “You’re going to get no jail, Megan’s Law, no contact with the victim, probation, and you’re going to turn in your teaching credentials and then fines of $50, $75, and $30 and DNA & prints. What I just said, is that your plea bargain as you understand it?”
“I do,” responded the defendant.
When Judge Pleim asked if there was anything else to the plea bargain, Union County Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Tomlinson stated, “I think the only thing, judge, is there’s a $500 assessment also associated which is on the Megan’s Law form.”
“Adding that $500 additional fine, is that your plea bargain as you understand it?”, Judge Peim clarified.
“Yes,” responded Mr. Saavedra.
The judge then asked for the factual basis of the plea agreement.
Anthony Palumbo, the defendant’s attorney, asked his client, “Mr. Saavedra, I draw your attention to . . . November 6th, 2017. Were you in Roselle Park on that day?”
“Yes, I was.”
“Were you tutoring a student at that point?”
“Yes, I was.”
“And at some point in time, while tutoring the student, did you allow your hand to go over the sweater that that person was wearing, over her breast, and did you do it for the purpose of your sexual gratification?”
With that, Mr. Palumbo ended the questioning of his client.
Judge Peim asked, “[Is] the state satisfied?”
“Just a couple of questions, your honor,” stated Assistant Prosecutor Tomlinson, “Mr. Saavedra, you know that that student . . . was 13-years-old, is that right?”
“And you would agree that you’re at least four years older than her, correct?”
“Yes, I was.”
And also, you’d agree [that] you didn’t just allow your hand to touch her breast area, you intentionally touched her breast area over her clothes, is that right?”
“The state’s satisfied,” concluded Ms. Tomlinson.
Judge Peim asked the defense attorney, “Council, you satisfied the plea is knowing, voluntary, and there’s a factual basis for it?”
“Yes,” replied Mr. Palumbo.
“All right, I will accept the plea,” said Judge Peim. He then asked Mr. Saavedra if he read, understood, and signed the plea agreement form. The defendant answered that he did.
The sentencing date for Mr. Saavedra is set for March 9th at 8:45 a.m. in front of Judge William Daniel.