Ralph Maestas acknowledged he had kicked a 13-month-old girl, the daughter of the woman he’d been living with for a few months on Charleston SE in the fall of 2009.
But contrary to evidence at a sentencing hearing on Monday, he insisted through his attorney that he had not anally raped the child, whose injuries were so severe that she required emergency surgery and a colostomy.
The medical intervention occurred after the mother, Kacee Kline, and the then 23-year-old Maestas sought to cover up the child’s profuse bleeding and threw away one diaper. The mother eventually decided to call an emergency operator.
The plea agreement reached between prosecutors and the defense allowed for a prison sentence of 24 to 30 years. District Judge Stan Whitaker imposed the higher number on Maestas, noting he was bound by the plea agreement. He also ordered five years to life on parole after release, sex offender registration and other conditions.
The child’s injuries were so severe that her surgeon said he’d never seen damage like it before.
They were so severe that the district judge, Stan Whitaker, said although he’d been around such cases for a long time, “I don’t know that I’ve heard a story like this.” Along with evil, Whitaker said he was also struck by the love and caring the girl and her siblings have received since the event.
The injuries were so severe that the child’s adoptive father said he didn’t use to believe in monsters, but he’s had to recalibrate his thinking.
And the adoptive mother, talking about the figurative “mountains” she and the girl have had to climb, told Whitaker she has always counseled forgiveness, but found that forgiving is a mountain she cannot yet climb.
Maestas pleaded no contest in February to 10 counts of criminal sexual penetration, kidnapping, intentionally caused child abuse and tampering with evidence, virtually the same as a deal negotiated by a prior defense attorney and rejected by a previous judge.
Maestas’ attorney, Liane Kerr, said she wanted to remind the court that Kline was sentenced to only eight years. Kerr said when she came into the case, she was given two boxes of materials from the Children, Youth and Families Department relating to events before Maestas was ever on the scene.
Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Marshall said Kline’s role had been the creation of a harmful environment, but that there was no evidence she was complicit in the anal injuries. Marshall asked for the full sentence, noting the crime lab was able to identify semen stains on a comforter in the children’s room.
A therapist who has been treating the girl and the child’s older brother and sister said the best word to describe the trauma all the children experienced is “terror.”
Simultaneous traumas to all three children that followed the night of the rape were the loss of their mother and grandmother, loss of their home and loss of each other, she said. The trauma “shattered the self,” leading to psychiatric disorders, she said.
The youngest child’s abuse was the most horrific she said she had seen in 20 years as a practicing therapist.
“These children will reflect on (their) abuse throughout their lives,” she said. “What was taken was their childhood, their innocence, their sense of worth.”