A San Mateo ice cream vendor was sentenced to prison today for forcibly kissing a 9-year-old girl who tried to buy a frozen dessert from him in July.
A San Mateo County Superior Court jury on Sept. 24 found Mario Aaron Martinez-Delgado, 41, of Hayward, guilty of child molestation by force and of false imprisonment, and today, Judge Craig Parsons sentenced him to serve three years in prison and register for life as a sex offender.
Parsons called the kiss, which Martinez-Delgado had denied was sexual, “a serious crime” against “a vulnerable victim who was, in effect, assaulted,” he said. The charges in this case carried a maximum penalty of eight years in prison.
“The defendant took advantage of a position of trust as an ice cream vendor, which should be a fun, secure setting for a child,” Parsons said.
Parsons added that the girl had been “and continues to be traumatized today,” though he allowed that he believed there was mitigation in that Martinez-Delgado has accepted responsibility for his actions, has no prior criminal record or similar accusations, and that the crime in this case was not as severe as in other cases with the same kind of charge, he said.
The incident took place during the afternoon on July 1 in the 700 block of South Idaho Street, a residential neighborhood of central San Mateo, according to police.
The young girl brought a dollar to Martinez-Delgado's rolling ice cream cart and asked for a Dora the Explorer ice pop, according to Deputy District Attorney Aaron Fitzgerald, but Martinez-Delgado reportedly told her he would give her the treat for free in exchange for a kiss.
When the girl said no, Martinez-Delgado then pulled her by the arm and kissed her with his tongue in her mouth, according to Fitzgerald. The girl ran home and told her parents, and Martinez-Delgado was arrested nearby
During the trial, Martinez-Delgado admitted to kissing the girl, but denied there was anything sexual about the kiss, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Martinez-Delgado's attorney Steve Chase today called his client's acts “impulsive” and “an aberration.”
“I do not believe that he's a danger to society,” Chase said.
Nevertheless, the girl's mother spoke tearfully about how her daughter came running into the house crying and screaming and how she now has nightmares and is afraid to play outside, and runs inside when she hears the bells of the ice cream cart.
“As a mother, it's very painful for me to go through what's going on in her life right now, to try to comprehend what's happened,” the girl's mother told Parsons. “I pray and hope he will never do this to any other kid in the future.”
Martinez-Delgado spoke briefly through a Spanish-language translator.
“I'm so sorry for having done all this, for having caused all this harm,” he said, adding that he'd never done anything like this before.
“I don't know what happened to me,” Martinez-Delgado said.
— Bay City News