Child molester gets one year

The man convicted of sexually molesting a 5-year-old girl received five years probation and one year of jail time in Fifth Circuit court last week, with credit for time served.

Judge Randal Valenciano handed down the sentence to Tom Gonsalves Sr., a punishment that also will include a $10,000 fine, 800 hours of community service and a $150 victim compensation fee.

Though Valenciano sealed Gonsalves’ psychosexual evaluation, before giving the sentence the judge did allude to Gonsalves’ attempted suicide as part of what he took into consideration.

“Your attempted suicide is an acknowledgement by you that the situation you created is a serious situation,” Valenciano said.

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn had asked for a harsher sentence than what Valenciano handed down — the maximum five years — because of the egregious nature of the crime given the age of the victim.

“I’ve heard this crime called an ‘incident’ and a ‘wrong,’” Winn Said. “But the defendant touched a 5-year-old girl’s vagina. He has a sexual preference for children.

“This 5-year-old girl didn’t realize what was happening or that it was wrong.”

Winn also said it wasn’t until details of the crime came to light after a conversation between the mother and child that the victim was informed that, in fact, what she endured was anything but right.

Following that conversation, further details surrounding other similar instances were brought to light as well, according to Winn.

“There were later disclosures of more incidences that had been happening for some time,” Winn said.

Mark Zenger, Gonsalves’ attorney, had asked Valenciano to sentence Gonsalves to probation without incarceration but under “extremely intensive supervision and treatment” in addition to requesting a deferred acceptance of sentencing. However, Valenciano denied both requests.

Zenger said that Gonsalves had suffered a serious past trauma to the brain. Zenger and a therapist who spoke on Gonsalves’ behalf said in court that in his group sessions Gonsalves was gaining greater understanding of the importance of having empathy for his victim and putting that emotion ahead of his own desires or feelings.

Alluding to the testimony given on his behalf, specifically that which was given by Gonsalves’ wife, Winn said, “In one sense it’s admirable — a wife supporting him — but we see it all the time.”

Winn went on to say that in addition to the trauma experienced by the victim, the family of the 5-year-old had been through trauma of their own over what their child had endured.

Factors Valenciano took into consideration, in addition to Gonsalves’ attempted suicide, included evaluating whether he believed Gonsalves would be likely to commit this type of crime again or whether he would have the ability to rehabilitate himself, Valenciano said.

Tips for preventing child molestation

• Pay attention to your child’s comfort level in going somewhere or being with someone.

• Let children know there is nothing they cannot tell you.

• At an early age, explain to them where it is and is not OK to be touched on their bodies, and by whom.

• Teach your kids that it is OK to say “No.”

• Teach them that secrets about touching body parts are not OK.

• Research caregivers and friends with whom you leave your child

• Be wary of teens or adults who offer to spend time with your child.

• Watch for warning signs: Isolation, bedwetting, moodiness, sleep disturbances or changes in eating habits.

Amanda C. Gregg
Published in: on November 11, 2007 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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