The prosecutor made a strong case: the victim was of tender age (8) and the sexual offense, which continued over a six month period, was violent. The defendant was a threat to children. The judge at Mr. Sagastume-Gonzalez’ bond hearing on February 28th, 2019 felt quite differently. It was all over in seven minutes.
Prosecutors explained that the female victim – who is 14 years old now – came forward earlier this year with disturbing allegations. When she was 8 years old her parents would drop her off at a babysitter’s apartment in Silver Spring many mornings. The babysitter often left to do her own errands and left her boyfriend, Mr. Sagastume-Gonzalez, to watch the elementary school-age girl.
The victim says that the defendant stripped naked and forced her to perform fellatio on him. When she attempted to refuse, he would hit, slap and kick her, according to a special victims detective.
Judge John Moffett listened, but stated that “He [the defendant] should not be around that girl, [but] I don’t necessarily find him a danger to the general community.”
Then the judge added, “If it happened, maybe it was a crime of opportunity.” A crime of opportunity is a crime that is committed without planning, when the perpetrator sees that he has the chance to commit the act at that moment and seizes it, with little or no premeditation.
At Court Watch we aren’t experts on child molestation. But we do know enough to know that violently molesting an eight year old is not in the same category with, say, grabbing a million dollars because it was left on a table unattended. If Mr. Sagastume-Gonzalez violently molested one child, then he is, in every sense, a danger to the safety of the community.
We wholeheartedly support bail reform. We don’t think people who are not a threat to a victim or the community at large should be forced to stay in jail prior to their trail just because they don’t have funds to pay a bond. But the lack of serious consideration of denying bond, or “home arrest” with GPS monitoring to ensure no contact with children other than his own, and the granting of a $10,000 bond shows a disturbing lack of judgement on the part of the judge, who chuckled with the defendant’s lawyer during the hearing.