EXCLUSIVE REPORT : He won his way into the heart of a developmentally disabled woman before sexually abusing her three young children — and beating her — for which a career predator from Garfield may never know freedom again.
Emanuel Hernandez is a “candidate for life incarceration,” said Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian, who sentenced him Friday to 12 years – eight of which he must serve at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel before being re-evaluated.
Under state law, Hernandez could remain there indefinitely if examinations show that he’s a risk to strike again.
The young victims spoke of nearly six years of demonic abuse during what became a heart-rending sentencing hearing in Hackensack.
“When I was 11 and 12 years old, Emanuel Hernandez did things to me I will never forget,” one of them told Jerejian. “He raped me and had sex with me. He did this every Sunday, and tried to do it to my sister, too.
“I was so scared. He told me if I told anyone he would take my baby sister and hurt my mom.
“I hate Manny because of what he did to me,” the 13-year-old victim said. “He made me feel disgusting.”
Hernandez, a 35-year-old temp agency worker, was following an established pattern when he targeted the Garfield mother of four in the mid-2000s, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Marybel Mercado Ramirez said.
The systematic abuse – involving all but the oldest daughter – continued until his arrest in January 2011, she said.
Hernandez continually masturbated in front of all the children, sometimes forcing them to clean up the semen, and made them watch pornographic cartoons, the prosecutor said.
“Getting the maximum time won’t be closure for my sister, but she is very strong,” the older girl told Jerejian. “My sister doesn’t want Manny to know how he affected her, but inside she is very angry and hurt.”
Their mother, sitting in the courtroom, sobbed as her daughters spoke.
Ramirez read a statement from her: “Honestly I used to feel terrible and hopeless, but now I have a feeling of relief. Twelve years is nothing, but it’s better than nothing at all.“
The prosecutor also read a statement from the girls’ brother, in which he said Hernandez “came to our house, did terrible things, broke things. He was the devil…. One day he called us into his room and showed us dirty, porn cartoons.
“He got my mom pregnant with my new sister, he abused my mom and sisters, he made us do things like slaves.”
Once, the boy said, he saw Hernandez hit his mother in the head with a hammer.
“These small simple words really belie the terror they were living at the hands of Mr. Hernandez,” Ramirez told Jerejian. “I think they don’t describe adequately who Mr. Hernandez is and the terror they lived with.
“Their mother is actually a great mother, a loving mother. She adores her children,” she said. “But she is developmentally delayed. She does the best she can to the extent her abilities.”
Authorities might never have learned about Hernandez if the primary victim, then 12, told a friend at school. Garfield police and members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit quickly got Hernandez into custody.
“He was able to instill fear in these children so that none of them knew the others were being abused ” until “it escalated and he abused them together,” Ramirez told the judge yesterday. He even claimed to be a Latin Kings member, of which she said, “there is no evidence.”
She also referred to a prior conviction in which Hernandez abused a 68-year-old stroke victim in a wheelchair.
“I feel sure there are more,” Ramirez told the judge, “but that was all I could find.”
“Your Honor, I wish I could ask for more time,” she said, “but that’s all I could get [under the plea agreement].”
For his part, Hernandez said: “I want to apologize to the victims and their family for the bad things I have done.”
“I also was abused,” he said, sobbing. “They didn’t deserve it.”
Hernandez told the judge he sometimes hears voices and denied for years that he needed medication.
“I have problems. I want to get help. I’m trying to improve my life by this,” he said. “I’m going to get treatment and help, and I apologize.”
Jerejian wasn’t moved.
He cited a history of felony convictions, including the assault on the elderly stroke victim.
“It would be hard to do anything worse in life,” the judge said. “And then you came into the lives of this family.
“In spite of their problems they all loved each other and helped each other,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll understand they were victims and they have done nothing wrong and go on with their lives.”
If Hernandez is ever released, he will remain on supervised parole for life, Jerejian said. He will also be classified as the most severe of Megan’s Law offenders, which, among other measures, will require him to receive Parole Board permission to live at any specific address – which he then must register publicly.
“Whatever possessed you to victimize people the way you do, maybe they can find an answer to it [at Avenuel],” the judge told him, “because you really are a danger to society.”
The daughter Hernandez had with the victims’ mother “will be better off without you,” Jerejian told Hernandez.
“There is probably nothing worse you can say to a person.”
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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