A DC Superior Court judge held off on imposing a sentence in a child sex abuse case.
Ronald Gonzalez was initially charged with first-degree child sex abuse for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in December 2019. The 20-year-old defendant pleaded down to second-degree child sexual abuse in March.
“This is a really hard case and I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time thinking about it since the plea,” Judge Neal Kravitz said during the Aug. 26 hearing.
The prosecution asked Judge Kravitz to sentence Gonzalez to four years and suspend two of them. This sentence would leave the defendant with approximately four more months left to serve before factoring in good time credit since he has spent about 20 months in pretrial detention by now. Defense attorney Joseph Wong, however, recommended a sentence of 32 months, with all of it suspended besides what time his client has already served.
Judge Kravitz decided to sentence Gonzalez to 36 months, with all but 22 months suspended, leaving him with approximately two more months to serve. He explained that this could buy the defense more time to find Gonzalez a living arrangement, so he would not have to go to a shelter upon his release. However, later in the hearing, Wong said he found a place for his client to stay.
Wong was also unsure if Gonzalez would be transferred to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons after being sentenced, which he said could make the defendant’s transition more difficult since he’d be farther away from home. Judge Kravitz decided to hold the sentence in abeyance so Wong would have time to find this information. He scheduled parties to reconvene on Sept. 3.
The sentence was set to be followed by three years of supervised probation. Conditions of his probation were to include psychological counseling, a sex offender evaluation and treatment if deemed necessary, a stay away order from the victim and her parents, 100 hours of community service and a $100 payment to the Victim of Violent Crime compensation fund.
Judge Kravitz agreed to sentence Gonzalez under the Youth Rehabilitation Act, which would effectively seal his case once he completes his requirements. The prosecution did not oppose this.
“He has a tremendous commitment to doing the right thing,” Wong said of his client. He said that Gonzalez, despite his youth, took responsibility for his actions early on. The defendant did not ask to be released from jail as his case progressed, saying he was ready to deal with the consequences in store for him, Wong said.
“Thanks to this correction a lot of my thinking has changed,” Gonzalez said.
As part of the plea deal, Gonzalez also agreed to register as a sex offender for ten years.
The hearing did not include any victim impact testimony.