A Fairview man who was acquitted of raping a 12-year-old girl after convincing her to play hooky from middle school was sentenced in Hackensack yesterday to eight years in state prison for having sexual contact with her.
“You don’t date 12-year-old girls, you don’t romance a 12-year-old child,” Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma told 22-year-old Marvin Flores-Gamez. “She should be playing with dolls instead of being in someone’s bedroom.
“There has to be something wrong with you to try to do this.”
Roma read from a letter the girl wrote to him:
“Your honor, after everything that has happened, my life isn’t the same any more,” it said. “I don’t have the same trust. Not all of my cousins have stayed by my side. We still talk, but it’s not the same as before.
“Only I know what all this has done to me.”
Flores-Gamez, a Guatemalan citizen, must serve six years and eight months of his sentence before he’s eligible for parole. Then he’ll be deported.
Seeking leniency for his client, defense attorney Landry Belizaire argued that he didn’t know any better.
“This is not a bad kid,” Bellizaire said. “He was an immature young man who exercised bad judgment.” Flores-Gamez lacked social skills and didn’t understand that he “couldn’t go on a double date with a 12-year old,” the attorney said.
Flores-Gamez’s parents both pleaded with the judge for a more lenient sentence for their son.
“He is a good person. He’s not bad,” his mother said. His father added that his needs his son’s help to pay his rent.
Flores-Gamez made his own bid for leniency. “I’m sorry to her family, and to my family because I know it’s my fault they are going through this,” he told Roma. “I ask you to give me another chance.”
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Marybel Mercado-Ramirez argued for a stricter sentence.
“Mr. Bellizaire wants the court to believe this defendant is some kind of feral child just thrown into America and raised under the porch, thrown tidbits of food,” she said. “He was living at home with his mother and father, ten brothers and sisters. He went to school in America.
“All these things clearly indicate this young man was a well-adjusted, normal teenager – he wasn’t starved, you see the size of him. He didn’t grow up in Guatemala; he was raised in the United States. Whether he lived on the fringes of society as many Latinos do is another issue.”
Although jurors acquitted him of the more serious rape charge in October, they found Flores-Gamez guilty of improperly touching the victim’s breasts and vagina to degrade or humiliate her while achieving sexual arousal or gratification for himself. They also convicted him of impairing the morals of a minor.
The girl, now in her mid teens, testified during the two-week trial that the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Flores-Gamez convinced her to come to his home in November 2011 after courting her on Facebook.
She said he put a pillow over face with one hand and told her to “be quiet, just be quiet,” and with the other pulled off her jeans and panties.
“I told him no, no — but he didn’t listen,” the 4-foot-10-inch youngster testified. “And he didn’t stop until I bit him on the shoulder — hard.”
Belizaire contended during the trial that investigators “planted” the rape in the girl’s mind. Flores-Gamez, meanwhile, insisted that he didn’t have intercourse with the victim.
Mercado-Ramirez said the acts that he admitted to constitute sexual assault under the law.
“Marvin Flores pursued and romanced this 12-year old girl, and his purpose was to engage in sexual intercourse with her,” the prosecutor said.
During her testimony, the girl recalled how she’d known Flores-Gamez from around the neighborhood, then was convinced by him that day to cut middle school and hang out with him.
The honors student brought her cousin and her cousin’s boyfriend along, as well as her school books. At one point, she did homework.
Somehow, she said, Flores-Gamez got her into a bedroom, closed the door, then assaulted her after failing to convince her that having sex was a good idea.
Others who testified included a Fairview police officer, a medical specialist, and the girl’s stepfather, who broke down while recounting how she admitted the incident after her cousin revealed that they’d played hooky.
“She denied at the beginning that anything happened,” he said through a Spanish interpreter. “I went to work the next day and I was very uneasy, wondering where they went.”
So he asked his daughter again, taking her into a bedroom and closing the door so that they could talk privately.
“She told me yes, he had abused her, and she didn’t want that,” the distraught father said, wiping his eyes. “And if she screamed he was going to hit her.
“She said Marvin is the one who did it,” he continued, sobbing. “She was crying, she screamed at me when she told me. She had never cried like that before.”
They both went to the Fairview police station a short time later.
There, he said, “I told the police my daughter had been taken by force.”
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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