BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A former teacher’s aide in Kern County was sentenced Thursday to 1,440 hours of community service and must register as a sex offender for at least 20 years after pleading no contest to a charge of lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old.
Steve Gonzales shook his head as a victim’s advocate from the District Attorney’s office read a written statement from the victim’s mother calling him a “sick” individual who she hopes will be haunted by his actions for the rest of his life. The mother wrote she doesn’t understand why Gonzales targeted her daughter, but she feels ill knowing there are people like him in the world.
Gonzales, dressed in a black collared shirt and black jeans, made no comment during the hearing. The incident leading to his arrest involved him allegedly inappropriately touching the minor.
Prosecutors offered the plea agreement last month after consulting with the victim’s family. The DA’s office dismissed a charge of attempted lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old upon Gonzales accepting the deal.
Gonzales was 45 at the time of his arrest in February 2019 after he was accused of engaging in sexual conduct with a child. He worked as an aide in a special education class at Hart Elementary School; police said the victim did not attend the school.
Mark Anthony Raimondo, Gonzales’ attorney, said afterward that his client will be eligible to petition for the termination of his sex offender registration requirement in 20 years due to a new law taking effect in January. Previously, convicted sex offenders in California had to register for life.
Senate Bill 384 establishes a three-tiered system based on the seriousness of the convicted person’s offense.
Tier one registrants must register as a sex offender for at least 10 years before they can file a petition to see if they meet criteria to be taken off the list. Tier two offenders must register for at least 20 years, and those placed in tier three must register for life.