A 24-year-old East Hampton man who pled guilty last month to 76 charges involving sex with children as young as 8 was sentenced Friday by Suffolk County Justice Barbara R. Kahn to multiple sentences of 20 years to life in state prison.
The mothers of three of the four victims in the charges spoke to the court, each sobbing as they did so. Statements from two of the children victimized were read aloud in court, as well, by Adina Weidenbaum, an assistant district attorney.
“I hate you so much for what you did to me, and I hope you go to hell,” one of the children had written, continuing, “I just wish with all my heart that you die.”
“I don’t want to go to school any more. I just want to stay home and cry. I am scared of the boys in school because I see your face on their bodies,” the other wrote.
The first mother spoke to the court, crying as she read from a hand-written note. “I just want to ask for justice for my daughter,” she said. Fidel Castro-Brito, who was handcuffed, wearing a pressed white button-down shirt and grey dress slacks, was facing away from the woman.
“Why don’t you look at mew as I speak?” she asked Mr. Castro-Brito, leading Justice Kahn to explain that Mr. Castro-Brito was required to face away from her as she gave her statement, for security reasons.
“How could he do that to my daughter?” the second mother asked. “They say that he is a sick person. Why is it that nobody realized before that he was sick?”
Andrea Lynn Halloran, an assistant district attorney for Suffolk County, detailed Mr. Castro-Brito’s crimes. There were four victims in all. She stressed that he had penetrated the girls’ vaginas with his penis, including the youngest victim.
The proof, she said, was not hard to find: He’d recorded the sex acts with his cellphone camera. “In one video, he is seen having sexual intercourse with a victim, while her 2-year-old sister was crawling on the bed.”
Paul Testaverde, Mr. Castro-Brito’s attorney, told the court that the defendant had himself been raped as a 9-year-old boy and had been sexually abused by three adults. Mr. Testarverde tried to argue that the sentence for sex crimes is much harsher than a normal sentence because of the repeated beatings and abuse that he said are part of life for such inmates. Ms. O'Halloran objected that such a line of reasoning was not appropriate for argument during sentencing, and Justice Kahn agreed.
After court was over, Mr. Testaverde said outside the courtroom that his client has been beaten by both guards and inmates on a regular basis, had been forced to eat soap, and has been hospitalized once as a result of the beatings.
“I know what it is to be raped,” Mr. Castro-Brito told the court, “but that does not justify these horrible things that I have done.”
“I ask God to forgive me for all the things I did to my victims. I wish I could turn the clock back and undo what I did.”
Before she sentenced Mr. Castro-Brito, Justice Kahn noted one mitigating factor: By pleading guilty to all charges, he’d spared the victims having to testify and be cross-examined about the crimes. She then proceeded to read the sentences for the 76 charges, all of them running concurrently with the multiple 20-year-to-life sentences she handed down for the most serious of the charges.
She added that, in all likelihood, if and when Mr. Castro-Brito is ever released from state prison, he will likely be deported to his native country, Ecuador.
Afterwards, Ms. O'Halloran stood outside the courtroom, speaking to the victims’ mothers, explaing that Mr. Castro-Brito was likely to spend far in excess of 20 years in prison, if he ever gets out at all.
Mr. Castro-Brito was first arrested by East Hampton Town police early last year after an East Hampton father returned home unexpectedly, surprising Mr. Castro-Brito, who was in his 12-year-old daughter’s bedroom. Mr. Castro-Brito climbed out the bedroom window and ran away.
Police were able to identify Mr. Castro-Brito, in large part, by tracking him through various forms of social media and, specifically, his cellphone.
He was initially charged with four felonies, including two classified as “A” felonies, the most serious level of crime under New York penal law. An “A” level felony can be punished by up to life in prison. Those two charges were for predatory sexual assault of a child and rape of a 12-year-year-old.
At the time, East Hampton Town Detective Lt. Chris Anderson called the case an “ongoing investigation.” In police jargon, that phrase usually means, “no comment.” In this case, though, there truly was an ongoing investigation.
Led by Detective Tina Giles, who was eventually honored for her work on the case by being named the top police officer of the year on the East End by the Kiwanis Club, and by Suffolk County police Detective Rory Forrestal, a computer expert, the police uncovered a series of similar crimes by Mr. Castro-Brito, leading to his indictment on 71 more charges, including five more charges of predatory sexual assault, as well as an additional charge of having sexual intercourse with the 8-year-old.
Mr. Castro-Brito was adept with social media, and used Facebook and ooVoo to communicate with his victims. According to Mr. Testaverde, all of the crimes occurred in a fairly brief window of time and all in East Hampton, although one of the girls lived outside the town.
Key to the investigation was Ms. Giles’s ease in speaking Spanish, which helped create a sense of trust between Ms. Giles and the child victims and their families, who were Latino.
“This guy was a predator,” Detective Anderson said earlier this year, after Ms. Giles was named top cop. “If not for the efforts of Detective Giles, taking it a step further than she needed to, there might well have been more victims.”
After sentencing Mr. Castro-Brito on Friday, the justice issued an order of protection for the four victims. The duration for each order was 100 years. Handcuffed, a pen in his right hand, Mr. Castro-Brito signed the four documents, and was then led away by two officers.