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Sentencing Delayed for Molester of Boys

Court: A judge put off for a third time deciding the fate of a man who admitted his crime, which he committed in his role as a 'Big Brother.'

September 26, 1997|JON STEINMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For the third time, a judge delayed sentencing a man who has confessed to molesting three children on 33 occasions while he was acting as a "Big Brother" to the victims.

Michael Blanchard, 35, used his role with Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles to gain access to the boys, all under the age of 16 and from the San Fernando Valley, over the last six years.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Victor Person ordered the delay at the request of Blanchard's lawyer, a decision that infuriated the mother of one of the victims. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she had already missed three days of work while Person repeatedly put off the sentencing.

Person also prohibited news photographers from taking pictures of Blanchard's face. He told The Times he was concerned that if the confessed molester's picture appeared in the media, he might be attacked while in custody.

Blanchard preyed on boys from single-parent homes. He tied his victims to a bed while he was caring for them, blindfolded them and sexually molested them.

"The proof we have is the videotapes the defendant made of the acts," said Det. Craig Ratliff of the Burbank Police Department. Ratliff said "at least two" videotapes were found at Blanchard's Burbank home.

A spokesman said the Big Brothers organization was shocked and saddened by the Blanchard case.

"We have a very rigorous screening process that includes interviews with the candidate, background checks on history, personality, and we check references," said Nancy Rose Dufford, spokeswoman for Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles. "You don't have to be a superhero to be in Big Brothers, but you do have to show us you're capable of the job."

Blanchard's references, his history and his lack of a criminal record, Dufford said, led Big Brothers to believe he was a suitable candidate.

"There was no indication of a problem," she said. "It would be pretty tough to lie to that many people, through all the steps of the screening process. He appeared to lead a normal life. He didn't appear to have abnormalities in his sexuality."

"Of course we're always upset when something like this happens," Dufford added.

In court Thursday in Pasadena, defense attorney Victor Sherman disclosed that an offer had been made on Blanchard's behalf to pay each of his victims $10,000 to be used for psychological counseling.

The offer of money by Blanchard's parents, who live in Ohio and were described by Sherman as wealthy, prompted outrage among the relatives of victims in the case.

"He needs to serve time in prison," said the mother of one victim. "He must pay for his crime. His parents shouldn't."

She shook in her seat when the money offer was made public by Sherman. She said her son, now 16, is still "very damaged." She said Blanchard "shouldn't be allowed to have his crimes paid off."

Prosecutors said they had rejected the proposal.

"That may have been an offer he made to get us to ask for less than the maximum sentence," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Amy Suehiro, who is prosecuting Blanchard. "We did not enter into any agreements, however. We want him to serve at the very least four years in state prison."

According to state law, Blanchard faces a maximum of six years in state prison.

Sherman has asked the court to consider a five-week rehabilitation program offered for sex offenders in Maricopa County, Ariz., by a private company, instead of jail time.

Blanchard has made three appearances in court this month, including his first hearing Sept. 11 when he pleaded guilty to all 33 counts lodged against him and waived his right to a trial.

Person set Oct. 21 for further proceedings.

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