Man gets 5 years for molesting boys
The well-known face and tidy appearance of Bud Soria — a 25-year-old sentenced yesterday for sexually assaulting two young boys — did not impress Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano.
In fact, Soria’s eloquence and clean-cut look caused Valenciano greater concern than if he had appeared disheveled or incoherent, the judge said.
“The court notices you’re well-groomed and you’re articulate,” Valenciano said. “But if indeed you are a sexual predator, your appearance would make you even more dangerous.”
Valenciano sentenced Soria to two concurrent five-year prison terms for third-degree sexual assault against two boys — a 10-year-old and 12-year-old — whose relationship with Soria is being withheld by The Garden Island to protect their identities.
The difference between first- and third-degree sexual assault when the offense is against a child under the age of 14 is “penetration” versus “touching,” Prosecuting Attorney Craig DeCosta said.
According to court documents, the victims were sexually assaulted in at least two incidents, one of which occurred against the older child while the younger was asleep in the same room.
Asking Valenciano to forego a prison sentence in exchange for probation and sex offender treatment, Soria’s attorney, Erick Moon, said his client was “confused about his sexuality.”
“He is a relatively young person, age 25, who committed a serious mistake,” Moon said.
But the severity of the “mistake” was well-illustrated when, speaking on behalf of her children, a sobbing Margaret Soria, whose hands were visibly shaking trying to hold onto a tissue, addressed the court.
“Bud is a very manipulative person,” she said. “I feel he is only regretful because he was caught. He has caused great pain and damage to my entire family. He does need serious help, but I feel he needs to be held accountable.”
Manipulation to gain the trust of victims and those responsible for them — such as parents — is a salient feature of pedophiles, DeCosta said.
“It’s a crime of opportunity,” he said.
“They commit it when they feel they’re not going to get caught. What makes it incredibly dangerous is that they don’t look like criminals, whereas a drug addict might give you a warning sign — they might appear, for example, to be intoxicated.”
Alluding to the deception she and her family suffered, Margaret Soria said her family was trying to help Bud Soria before he assaulted her children.
“He’s been lying,” she said. “…Lying about his sexuality, even though we were all aware of it. The day it happened he lied and pretended everything was fine. …I’m grateful he’s taken responsibility and didn’t put my children through trial. I just ask that he pays for what he has done.”
The two young boys wrote letters to the court, part of the file Valenciano ordered sealed.
However, the judge briefly alluded to the impact their statements made on him.
“The court had the benefit of letters from both of your victims and it’s clear at this time what the impacts of the crime are,” he said. “It is unclear, however, how long it will impact them — because every time they go through treatment, it’s a reminder of what happened.”
With that in mind, Valenciano said probation wasn’t a notion he was entertaining.
“Even though I’ve been willing to give second chances or opportunities — this court is not willing to do that for you,” he said.
“The court has a concern that this act is not an isolated act, that there may have been prior acts even subsequent to the commission of this act, so the court agrees with Mr. DeCosta from a protection-of-society perspective. You need to be incarcerated.”
The two five-year terms will be served concurrently, or simultaneously. Though sentencing is under the sole discretion of the judge, DeCosta said he agreed to the proposed sentence beforehand as part of an agreement to help the victims avoid a lengthy, painful trial and to get an admission from the defendant.