BY JOE OLENICK email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — LOCKPORT — A man who could have faced life in prison will spend 20 years in prison for sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl who came forward because she was “stronger than he gave her credit for,” according to an assistant district attorney.
Juan Rivera-Stupia III, 32, of Oliver Street, Lockport, was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in state prison and 20 years of post-release supervison by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas. Rivera-Stupia pleaded guilty June 26 to first-degree sexual conduct against a child, a class B violent felony.
Farkas had agreed to a maximum sentence of 20 years, which is exactly what the victim’s family and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth R. Donatello asked for Wednesday afternoon.
Originally charged with predatory sexual assault, Rivera-Stupia was facing life in prison if he was convicted at a trial.
“The B felony plea was offered to spare the victim from testifying at trial,” Donatello said.
Donatello said Rivera-Stupia had abused the girl repeatedly between April and December, causing injury to the victim. Rivera-Stupia had told the girl she couldn’t say anything to her mother or an adult.
”But she was stronger than he gave her credit for,” Donatello said. “And she’ll be just fine. But part of her moving on is this man going to jail for as long as possible.”
The victim’s mother spoke in court prior to the sentencing. She said she was told of Rivera-Stupia’s actions by her daughter in December.
Dealing with it has been difficult for the girl, as well as the family, the mother said. The child suffered from night terrors as well as depression, while the mother has been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. The family relocated, resulting in the loss of employment for the mother and a new school for her daughter.
”I don’t trust anyone with my children,” the mother said. “Every day is a struggle ... No sentence will match what he did.”
The girl, now 9-years-old, was in court Wednesday surrounded by family. Rivera-Stupia did not look at the family but said he was sorry for what he had done. He asked for forgiveness, “not today but at some time.”
”People may not believe what I’m saying, but it comes from the heart,” Rivera-Stupia said.
His attorney, Dominic Saraceno, asked for a lesser sentence and said while Rivera-Stupia’s crime was “horrible and one of the most horrendous, I don’t think he’s a horrible person.”
When released, Rivera-Stupia will register as a sexual offender. The victim’s family requested an order of protection.
Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.