A former university professor was sentenced to 12 years in state prison Wednesday in a sexual molestation case sparked when photographs showing graphic abuse of a Newport Beach girl were found discarded on a Los Angeles street.
Ronald Ruskjer, 44, a one-time faculty member at Loma Linda University's school of public health, wept and apologized during a 40-minute statement before a San Bernardino Superior Court judge.
His girlfriend, Evelyn (Evie) Bacilio, 33, was sentenced on Tuesday to six years in prison after begging for forgiveness from the child's parents.
Six months after a highly publicized hunt led to their arrest, Ruskjer and Bacilio pleaded guilty in April to multiple felony counts of sexually abusing a Newport Beach girl, then 2, and taking sexually explicit photographs of a child.
The two, who lived in the San Bernardino County community of Grand Terrace, were arrested Oct. 8.
The case began to unfold in October when someone turned over to Los Angeles police 11 photographs that had been found on the street--four showing a man apparently performing sex acts with a little girl, three showing a woman doing the same and four showing the girl by herself. Police believe the photos were thrown from Ruskjer's car by robbers who had stolen the vehicle.
Although state law prohibits distributing pictures showing sex with children, police won court permission to publicly release three carefully edited photos to the news media in the hope someone would recognize the adults or the girl. Within hours after the photos were released, police received about 40 calls identifying Ruskjer and Bacilio as the suspects.
Police arrested Ruskjer at Detroit Metropolitan Airport where he had just landed on a flight from Tokyo, while Bacilio, a former secretary for an Ontario medical supply company, was arrested at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas while preparing to fly to Chicago.
Other tips led authorities to the identity of the girl and her parents in Newport Beach.
The Newport Beach parents, who were not identified in court, told Superior Court Judge Roberta McPeters in a letter that they were disgusted by the photographed molestation of their daughter.
"I think of my sweet little innocent 2-year-old bound by the wrists and the ankles being sexually molested by these two," one of the parents wrote in the letter.
Authorities said the photographs were taken Jan. 9, 1993, at Ruskjer's home while Bacilio was baby-sitting the child. Detectives say the girl has no memory of being assaulted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.