A Nampa man who provided a father figure to troubled boys, then molested them, must continue serving his sentence of at least 21 years in prison, the Idaho Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
Javier Aguilar, 44, was sentenced in August 2010 on three counts of lewd conduct with children. He appealed his conviction and the sentence life in prison, with a minimum sentence of seven years for each of the three crimes before he is eligible for parole.
Aguilar, who had admitted having sex with the boys, claimed the sentence was excessive and his conviction suspect because the court allowed a counselor to testify about the long-term effects of the abuse on the children, who were between the ages of 6 and 9 at the time.
The appeals court rejected Aguilars appeal, ruling that the district court did not abuse its sentencing discretion. The appellate judges agreed the district judge erred by admitting the long-term effect testimony after it was challenged, but added that "the error was harmless."
"Given the weight of the evidence against Aguilar in this case, we are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that there is no reasonable possibility that the admitted evidence contributed to the verdict," Judge John Melanson wrote in the opinion filed Friday.
During the 2010 trial, the prosecutor and judge described Aguilar as a charming pedophile who won the trust of single mothers and then groomed their sons, ages 6 to 9, as sexual partners. One mother said she trusted Aguilar so much she made him the legal guardian of her son.
Aguilar was so well-loved in the community, Deputy Prosecutor Erica Kallin said, that the victims were accosted by angry, disbelieving peers after they came forward.
The crimes occurred between 2002 and 2004, prosecutors said, but the victims didnt come forward until 2007 and 2008. "He stole (my sons) dignity and virginity and more, one mother said in court. We have dealt with his moods and anger all these years, wondering why. Now we know it was Javier."
One of the victims tried to commit suicide seven times in three years. Another fell into an escalating pattern of crime and ended up in the state penitentiary. The third ran away the day after he came forward as a sexual-abuse victim and was still missing when Aguilar was sentenced.
Kallin said the three boys did not know each other but had strikingly similar accounts: Aguilar invited them into a back bedroom for candy, video games and, eventually, sexual abuse.
Aguilar denied the charges before a Canyon County jury found him guilty. Later he admitted to molesting four boys and attempting to molest another. Prosecutors said they documented six victims and the attempted molestation and believe there are probably more.
Aguilar apologized to his victims and their mothers at his sentencing. He said he was sexually abused as a child, and that should have made him understand the terrible impact of his actions.
His defense attorney sought a sentence that would make Aguilar eligible for parole after five or six years. He stressed his clients troubled background, including childhood abuse and witnessing the murder of his father.