Photo by Alexander Nguyen
Photo by Alexander Nguyen

A 51-year-old former Garden Grove church volunteer is beginning a 28-month jail stint for the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Vincent Daniel Lavello of Garden Grove was taken into custody Monday upon pleading guilty to three counts of committing lewd acts on a child and statutory rape, according to Deputy District Attorney Lexie Elliott.

His sentencing date was scheduled for Jan. 3, 2018, because authorities estimate that is when he will have collected enough custody credits to be done with a five-year sentence. The plea deal was structured to have Lavello serve his time in Orange County Jail instead of state prison, Elliott said.

The victim was eager to see Lavello — who had been out on bail — begin his time in custody, Elliott said.

“It was important for her to see him go in,” the prosecutor said.

The girl’s mother said in a victim impact statement to the judge that her daughter was on a “24-7” watch while Lavello was out of custody because they feared his ability to reach out to her, Elliott said.

Lavello was a volunteer church leader at Calvary Chapel West Grove in Garden Grove when he initiated the sexual relationship with the teen in June of last year, Elliott said.

Lavello’s wife discovered “inappropriate” text messages that her husband had sent to the girl and told the church pastor, who called police, according to Elliott.

Lavello provided help financially to the girl’s family, including helping them get an apartment and buying the teen gifts, Elliott said.

Three additional counts of lewd acts on a child were dropped as part of the plea deal. Lavello could have faced up to seven years in prison if convicted at trial.

— City News Service 

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