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Judge ordered to impose longer sentence for sexual assault of 3-year-old

Kevin Rojano-Nieto is shown in a booking photo.
(Orange County district attorney’s office)

An appeals court this week reversed an Orange County judge’s controversial 10-year sentence for a man who sodomized a 3-year-old girl.

California’s 4th District appellate court concluded Tuesday that Kevin Rojano-Nieto should serve at least 25 years and ordered a resentencing. A resentencing date was not immediately set.

Rojano-Nieto, then 19, was convicted in 2014 of sodomizing the toddler, a relative, who had wandered into a garage where he was playing video games.

The girl told her mother what happened and was taken to a hospital clinic, where a nurse performed a sexual assault exam.

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Rojano-Nieto was arrested the same day and eventually confessed, stating that the sodomy lasted for “five seconds.”

He faced a minimum 25-year prison term.

Last year, Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly found himself in a firestorm when he sentenced Rojano-Nieto to 10 years, stating that the higher sentence would be “cruel and unusual punishment.”

At the time of the sentencing, Orange County supervisors were calling for the judge’s resignation, and thousands signed petitions condemning his actions.

The appellate court concluded that a 25-year-to-life sentence is not “so disproportionate” to the crime.

“We conclude that Rojano committed a grave and serious offense when he sodomized Jane Doe,” the ruling read. “Therefore, a sentence of 25 years to life is not grossly disproportionate to the crime and does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The district attorney’s office, which had appealed the sentence, said in a statement that it applauded the decision.

“This was a good day for child victims of brutal sex assaults and the people of Orange County,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said.

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brittny.mejia@latimes.com

Twitter: @Brittny_Mejia

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