The father of two little girls said he felt he shared a common bond with his new neighbor, Miguel Angel Schiappapietra.
Both were public servants: The father was a firefighter, Schiappapietra was a Los Angeles police officer, who was also married with young children.
"He knew I would be there for his wife and family when he was away at work protecting citizens," the firefighter said in a halting, emotional statement from his seat in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. "And I expected the same from him."
But just a month after moving into the firefighter's neighborhood in Castaic, Schiappapietra had betrayed that trust.
On Friday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sentenced Schiappapietra to three years in state prison for committing a lewd act on the firefighter's 5-year-old daughter and attempting a lewd act on her 8-year-old sister. He will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.
The six-year LAPD veteran, who pleaded no contest to the charges, was arrested in May after he lured the girls from their yard into his bedroom, a court record states.
According to a probation report, Schiappapietra asked the girls: "Do you know what boys do?"
One of the girls believed he planned to show them "talents, like riding skateboards," the report states. After they followed him to his bedroom, he exposed himself to them. At one point, Schiappapietra asked the 5-year-old to touch him, which she did, according to the court document.
The girls later told their parents what had happened.
The victims' father, who wanted to protect his family's privacy and did not disclose his name in court, said he thought Schiappapietra's sentence was too lenient.
He said he dreaded the day when his children "come to understanding," and he must explain to them the abuse they suffered.
Nonetheless, he said he forgave Schiappapietra for what he did to his children and hoped he would get the help he needs.
"My family and I are going to move on," he said, adding that he hoped Schiappapietra and his wife "can do the same."
He turned to Schiappapietra's wife, who dabbed her eyes in the back row of the courtroom, and told her she should never feel unwelcome in their church, where she had been of "tremendous" service to the community.
Schiappapietra resigned from the LAPD last month while the criminal case was pending. He also addressed the court. In words that were nearly inaudible, the 28-year-old apologized to the victims' family.
"I have for some time wanted to say sorry for all the hurt I have caused," he said.
He expressed a desire to change his life, and "do what needs to be done."
Schiappapietra's attorney, David Diamond, said that had the case gone to trial, things might have turned out differently for his client.
"But Miguel took it upon himself to start the healing process for everybody involved," he said.
Deputy Dist. Attys. Stephanie Saragna and Rosa Alarcon declined to comment, except to say that the case was unusual in that it involved a police officer.
Superior Court Judge Michael D. Abzug said both families had his sympathies.
It was "a sad situation all the way around," he said.
After sentencing, Schiappapietra was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.