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Judge gives probation in sexual assault case

YOUNGSTOWN — A Mahoning County Common Pleas judge wrapped up an 11-year-old case involving the sexual assault of a then-10-year-old girl Thursday by sentencing the 71-year-old defendant to three years of probation.

Jose Sanchez, who listed a Pasadena Avenue address, on June 30 pleaded no contest to an amended charge of gross sexual imposition. The defendant was given a break by the judge, who said his defense attorney Lou Defabio argued well.

The crime happened in 2009 in Mahoning County.

“This is one of the most challenging cases that this court could handle. It would have been the easiest thing to do probably to impose a prison sentence, but it is significant that the defendant has not had so much as a traffic ticket in the years before and the years subsequent to this incident,” said Judge John Durkin.

He also noted that the victim, — now 22 — did not appear in court to deliver a victim impact statement.

Before sentencing, Sanchez said in Spanish through his interpreter: “I leave my life in your hands.”

Durkin warned Sanchez that if he plans on violating any of the terms of probation, he would face up to five years in prison and a possible post-release probation of five years. He also ordered Sanchez to have no contact with the victim and register as a Tier 2 sexual offender, which means he must register his address every 180 days for 25 years.

Defabio said Sanchez plans to live with a relative in Kentucky, but the judge said he must get the court’s approval. Defabio said his client had lived in Kentucky and the warrant for this case was only served five months ago, when Sanchez returned to Youngstown.

The defense attorney said there was no physical evidence that the girl was abused. He also said his client was severely ill and suffering from breathing problems.

Assistant Prosecutor Caitlyn Andrews disagreed, saying Sanchez took advantage of an intellectually disabled girl for his own sexual pleasure and the girl must live with that trauma.

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