Despite pleas from his wife and daughters for his freedom, a 42-year-old Sylmar man who sexually molested three of his girls was sentenced Thursday to 24 years in state prison.
Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Alan B. Haber told the family that it was "very difficult" for him to take a wage earner away from the home, but that he has a duty to "try to deter other fathers from molesting their daughters."
"It is absolutely unthinkable to me that a father would do this to his daughters," Haber said. "He has to pay the price."
The man, Simon Ortiz Garcia, pleaded guilty in September to nine counts of lewd acts and forcible sex involving three of his daughters, now ages 8, 14 and 17. The 17-year-old told police that her father had molested her from the time she was 4 until last April, according to court records.
Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, Ortiz, who worked odd jobs as a laborer, could have been sentenced to up to 48 years in prison. He has five sons and four daughters.
Ortiz's wife and two of the girls urged Haber to free Ortiz and order him to undergo psychological counseling.
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Lloyd M. Nash labeled the molestation case "one of the most aggravated that I've ever seen."
The prosecutor said he believed that the girls were terrified of their father and had been persuaded by the mother to speak out for leniency.
"I think that this individual shouldn't see the light of day for a substantial number of years," Nash said.
Ortiz's attorney, Deputy Public Defender William M. Thornbury, cited the family's comments and said he believed that a sentence of 10 years was sufficient. But that prompted Haber to reply, "not a chance."
Ortiz will be eligible for parole after about 12 years.