Comparing Robert Lee Donaldson to a “piranha” who should be kept behind bars until he dies, Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen on Friday sentenced the convicted rapist and child molester to 122 years in state prison.
“He has stalked his victims like a piranha and attacked them without mercy,” Coen said. “As a parent, I am offended. As a judge, I am outraged.”
Donaldson was convicted earlier this week on 18 felony counts of stalking, raping and threatening to kill three girls, an 11-year-old and two 16-year-olds. All of the victims were snatched off the street early in the morning as they walked alone to school in Pacoima and Inglewood.
A charge of attempting to kidnap a fourth girl was dropped when the jury, after returning guilty verdicts on the other charges, asked to have testimony from six witnesses reread to them.
In handing down a sentence that virtually ensures Donaldson will be incarcerated until he dies, Coen rejected a plea for mercy from defense attorney Bruce Hill.
Hill sought to portray Donaldson, 36, of Pacoima, as equally a victim with the girls he had attacked. Donaldson was sodomized as a child, Hill said.
“He is not in his present situation because he deserves to be,” Hill said. “He is here simply because he could not avoid it, because of circumstances beyond his control and for which he should not be responsible.”
Deputy Dist. Atty. Jacquelyn Lacey countered by reciting the highlights of Donaldson’s lengthy rap sheet.
“Here is a person who has continued to terrorize this society,” Lacey said.
At 15, Donaldson was accused of molesting a 5-year-old and of attempted murder. Three years later, Donaldson was convicted of attempted murder and served three years in prison, according to a probation officer’s report.
Ten months after his release from prison in December, 1980, Donaldson committed a robbery, receiving a suspended sentence of six months in jail and two years’ probation.
By mid-1982, Donaldson had raped and sodomized three young boys and was sent to prison until 1993. Almost immediately, he absconded from parole, the probation report said.
Months later, Donaldson committed the crimes that would send him to prison permanently.
Some of the 1993 attacks occurred on the same Pacoima block where Donaldson had molested young boys in the early ‘80s.
“Mr. Donaldson is the reason many parents tell their children, ‘Don’t walk to school alone,’ ” Lacey said. “What he did to these children is unforgivable. It’s horrible.”
The emotional trauma of the attacks continues to haunt the victims, Lacey said. In court, the prosecutor read a letter from one victim’s teacher, who said the once highly motivated teen-ager remains a prisoner of the rapist, her life circumscribed by fear.