A San Mateo ice cream vendor convicted of molesting a 9-year-old customer pleaded for forgiveness before being sentenced to three years in prison Monday.
“God forgive me and I hope everyone forgives me, especially the girl and her family,” said 51-year-old Mario Aaron Martinez-Delgado through a Spanish interpreter. Martinez-Delgado said he didn’t know why he forcibly kissed the girl July 1 and that he had never done anything like it.
“I don’t know what happened to me,” he said, as the victim’s mother wiped away tears.
San Mateo Superior Court Judge Craig Parsons said he took Martinez-Delgado’s remorse and lack of a criminal record into account when sentencing him to less than the six years prosecutors were asking for. A jury convicted the Hayward man on Sept. 24 of child molestation by force and of false imprisonment.
Martinez-Delgado will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Prosecutors say he offered the girl free ice cream in exchange for a kiss. When she refused, Martinez-Delgado grabbed her by the arm, pulled her to him and forced his tongue in her mouth.
The girl’s mother attended the sentencing and told the judge that her daughter is still traumatized bythe event. The child, who testified against her attacker during the trial, experiences nightmares and becomes terrified whenever she hears the jingle of an ice cream vendor in her neighborhood, she said.
“She’s very emotional. She’s hurt. As a mother it’s very painful,” she told the judge. “I just pray and hope he will never do anything like this to a kid in the future.”
Martinez-Delgado’s court-appointed attorney, Steve Chase, said there had never been another complaint about his client’s behavior in the four years he sold ice cream in the neighborhood.
“I do believe this was an impulsive act on his part, an aberration,” Chase said.
But Deputy District Attorney Aaron Fitzgerald said Martinez-Delgado had continuously lied, first telling investigators that he simply bumped heads with the girl, then disputed there was force, and took issue with the District Attorney’s Office for filing charges.
Though he noted the ice cream vendor’s “extreme remorse,” Parsons said his heart went out to the girl and chastised Martinez-Delgado.
“He took advantage of a position of trust as an ice cream vendor, which should be a fun, secure position for a child,” the judge said.