WESTMINSTER — Swayed by emotional appeals from the parents of a traumatized girl, a judge Friday offered this choice to a man who pleaded no contest to molestation: accept double the sentence or take his chances before a jury.
Robert Stanfield, 68, of Long Beach has until Thursday to decide, Superior Court Judge Luis A. Cardenas said. Stanfield, who faced 12 felony counts and is free on $10,000 bail, previously waived his rights to a jury trial.
Cardenas was planning to sentence Stanfield to three years in state prison but decided to double that after hearing statements from the detective in charge of the case and the girl's parents.
With tears in their eyes, the victim's parents said she suffers from severe depression and was placed in a locked psychiatric facility recently, on her 13th birthday.
"You don't know the guilt . . . when you have to lock your daughter in a locked facility on her birthday," the father said in a cracked voice.
Stanfield, who owns a nutrition store in Seal Beach and was a Sunday school teacher there, met the victim's family last year.
Learning that the parents were going away for a weekend in December, Stanfield offered to have his 20-year-old daughter look after the girl, the prosecution alleges.
Instead, authorities claim, he picked the girl up at her home in Seal Beach, took her to dinner and to a clothing store where he bought her a pair of panties. After renting two X-rated movies, police said, Stanfield took the victim to a motel in Long Beach, molested her during the night and the next day at a drive-in movie theater. Then he took her to see a Christmas play at the Crystal Cathedral before taking her back to his house.
Detectives began investigating the case in December after the girl told a school counselor that she had been molested.
After the hearing, Cardenas said that comments from the girl's parents and the detective made him realize that the crime did not happen by chance but seemed to have been carefully planned.
"Based on the comments made this morning, this case is much more serious than I had realized," Cardenas said. "I don't feel comfortable with my original evaluation."
Also, he did not realize "the scope of harm done to the victim," Cardenas said.
Stanfield seems like "a man calculatingly involving children in his sexual activities," the judge said.
Seal Beach Police Detective Charles Castagna said in court that he had been disappointed that the case did not go before a jury originally, because existing evidence "would incense 12 rational people," who might give Stanfield a longer sentence.
"The six years asked for by the D.A. already is gracious considering his age," Castagna said. "To reduce it to three is a real travesty."
The girl's parents pleaded with Cardenas that three years would not give their daughter time to mature to a point where she could deal with her former tormentor.
But Kim Stanfield, 20, the defendant's daughter, said the judge should consider her father's advanced age.
"If he goes to prison, a man his age can even die," she said, and added that she thinks Cardenas' decision was unfair.