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Judge approves controversial 8-year sentence for man who sexually assaulted mentally disabled women

A Los Angeles County judge Thursday approved an eight-year prison sentence for a man who confessed to sexually assaulting three mentally handicapped women at an El Monte daycare center where he worked.

Superior Court Judge Mike Camacho was in the middle of pronouncing the sentence — the product of a controversial plea bargain — when the prosecutor reminded him that one victim's mother wished to speak.

The mother said she was disappointed that although she went to authorities the same day her daughter reported the assault to her, the defendant, Juan Fernando Flores, was not arrested for almost a year — a period during which he assaulted others.

The sentence, she said, was another disappointment.

"The eight years he's been given is way too little time given the harm he's done to our families," the woman said in Spanish, her words translated by a court interpreter. "Nevertheless, we don't want to open the deep wounds he's caused our daughters. … We will respect your decision."

As the woman stood in the Pomona courtroom a few feet from her daughter's assailant, Camacho told her, "I do understand and acknowledge that no amount of time is going to heal the wounds your family has incurred. … I hope you take comfort in knowing [the defendant] will not have a normal life from now on."

Noting that Flores will have to register as a sex offender upon release, Camacho said the sentence is "in no way treating Mr. Flores leniently."

lisa.girion@latimes.com

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