Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A former Spanish teacher and soccer coach at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano was sentenced Friday to three years and four months in prison for having sex with a 14-year-old girl who had been one of his students.

Ricardo Aldana, 40, was convicted May 29 of three counts of lewd acts with a child, but was acquitted of four other counts of the same charge.

The maximum Aldana could have faced was four years and four months in prison, but Orange County Superior Court Judge David Hoffer, who admitted to sleepless nights as he contemplated the defendant’s punishment, gave Aldana credit for having a great deal of support from family and friends.

Aldana’s victim told Hoffer of the “ongoing torment” related to her having sex with her former Spanish teacher.

“There is no existing term to describe the pain and hardship my family and I have endured as a result of this crime,” she told the judge. “I still think about the abuse and often times cry myself to sleep. Aldana was somebody I looked up to only to later discover that his intentions were ill.”

She said her former instructor betrayed her trust in him.

“I had, and still have, very strong morals, especially about sex,” the victim said, describing the evening the defendant took her to his bedroom. “I was a virgin. I wanted to save myself for marriage or at least when I was much older and in a committed relationship. I did not know what to do. I contemplated every way I knew to try to get him to stop. I felt powerless, as if my life and my virginity were now in the hands of this man. It was the most awful and scary feeling I had ever experienced.”

The victim sharply criticized the JSerra community for “defending” Aldana. She also singled out Aldana’s attorney, Michael Molfetta, for casting blame on her.

“He told the world I was a slut and a liar,” she said of Molfetta. “I’ve been betrayed by so many people who chose to vilify me and defend my rapist. As if I haven’t been through enough, Mr. Molfetta had threatened to sue my family.”

Molfetta denied the allegations, and Hoffer pointed out that the defense attorney never insulted the victim during the trial.

“When it comes to adversaries, I set my sights higher than 14-year- olds,” Molfetta told City News Service after the hearing.

Deputy District Attorney Jana Hoffmann argued Aldana deserved the maximum punishment because he has shown a “pattern of misconduct” with “adolescent” girls. When the defendant was 21 he started dating a 16-year-old girl he married when she turned 18, Hoffmann said.

In 2002, when Aldana coached at Hawthorne High School, he allegedly had sex with a 17-year-old student whose brother played on the soccer team the defendant coached, Hoffmann said.

When those allegations came to light, Aldana was fired, but the teen declined to pursue the case in court, Hoffmann said.

When Aldana was hired by JSerra in 2005 he lied on his job application when asked if he had been the subject of a sex crime allegation, Hoffmann said.

Molfetta argued Aldana has “led a pretty much exemplary life,” and was “convicted of one night of showing horrific judgment.”

Aldana went through a “messy divorce” from his “scorned” wife, Molfetta said, brushing off her allegations.

“There are no prior convictions. There are only allegations,” Molfetta said.

Hoffer noted that Aldana had sex with the teen in his bedroom “where he had complete control,” and that he should have had a discussion with her prior to their sexual encounter about her virginity.

“When he found out (she lost her virginity) he said, ‘my bad.’ Yes, it was bad, very bad,” Hoffer said.

“I think he should have discussed it with her first.”

The teen was a “an extremely vulnerable victim,” because she had been one of his students and because she was going through a rough time at home, Hoffer said.

The judge also noted that the defendant will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, which played a role in his decision not to impose the maximum sentence.

Hoffer praised the victim for coming forward and admonished Aldana’s supporters in the JSerra community to stop criticizing her.

“There have been statements that were cruel, cutting and painful to her,” Hoffer said. “Here is a situation where (the victim) told the truth and that required extreme bravery. (The victim) spoke up to prevent any more victims and that was very brave.”

Aldana was fired from JSerra Catholic High School following his arrest in December 2011. Aldana coached the boys soccer team at the school.

Aldana met the victim when she was 13 and a freshman at the school, Hoffmann said. By her sophomore year, she was being home-schooled, but she kept in touch with the defendant, the prosecutor said.

Aldana was arrested following a “covert” phone call to the defendant monitored by investigators.

During the phone call, when the girl said she was concerned about sexually transmitted diseases Aldana assured her he had been checked, then asked if he had to worry about contracting a disease from her, Hoffmann said.

City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.