Orange County district attorney appeals sentence for man who sodomized 3-year-old girl

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is appealing a judge's decision to give less than half the mandatory sentence to a man who sexually assaulted a 3-year-old girl.

Rackauckas announced on Thursday that his office is appealing the decision of Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly to reduce Kevin Rojano-Nieto's sentence to 10 years in state prison.

In December, the 20-year-old was convicted of sodomizing a 3-year-old girl, to whom he's related.

Kelly called the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 to life "cruel and unusual."

The judge said a court-ordered examination concluded Rojano-Nieto wasn't a sexual predator and acted on impulse when he attacked the girl. He also said the girl's parents had asked for leniency.

"No normal adult who's not a pedophile has sexual thoughts about a toddler," Rackauckas said.

Kelly's decision outraged victims' rights groups and sparked recall demands.

Three Orange County Board of Supervisors are calling for Kelly's resignation, threatening to launch a formal recall petition.

Rackauckas steered clear of that effort.

"I think it's inappropriate to get the district attorney's office involved in that. That's a political matter, separate from what we're doing here," Rackauckas said.

Rojano-Nieto's attorney has said in the past that he supports the judge's decision and welcomes an appeal.

The Orange County Superior Court said it is their policy not to have judges comment on issues like this.

Rackauckas said if not overturned, this decision could impact the justice system as a whole.

"What does it take to protect not only this victim, certainly this victim, in the future and also other victims?" Rackauckas said.

The district attorney says the appeals process will take at least six months.
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