BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Facing the man she said sexually abused her over a five-year period, Kauri Walton asked for the harshest possible sentence, saying the crimes committed by Miguel Castillo Jr. don’t warrant a second chance.
“He took everything from me,” Walton said in court Tuesday, where she told the court she thought of ending her life as the case continued to slowly grind along over four years.
Following her comments, Superior Court Judge John Oglesby sentenced Castillo to 38 years to life in prison. A jury last month convicted Castillo of molesting Walton and another teen girl.
Castillo, 43, showed no reaction as the judge handed down sentence. He waved to a group of about 10 family members as they left the courtroom.
Walton reported the abuse in 2018. 17 News does not usually name alleged victims of sexual abuse, but Walton went public with her story and identified herself in an effort to fix what she feels is a broken court system.
Castillo is a repeat convicted sex offender. Court records show he pleaded no contest in 2001 to a charge of committing sex acts with a child under 14.
His attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey, said his client continues to maintain his innocence. Humphrey noted they beat several of the charges, and he believes the convictions resulted from what he says is the fundamentally unfair practice of allowing the jury to hear about prior convictions.
Humphrey said he also has issues with alleged victims reading statements in court because they’re not subject to cross-examination. Many victim impact statements come from sample letters written by prosecutors or survivor advocacy groups, he said, and it’s impossible without questioning to find out which emotions expressed are genuine and which were pre-written.
These letters often strike an angry, vindictive tone, Humphrey said, and consume energy that would be better spent in examining and addressing the root causes of what makes people cross social norms.
A mother’s statement
During her victim impact statement, Marlana Clevenger, Walton’s mother, said trusting Castillo is the worst mistake she ever made.
He came across as an ordinary guy, Clevenger said. As the father of her daughter’s best friend, she felt her daughter was safe in his company.
What she came to find out, Clevenger said, is Castillo is an expert at disguising his true self.
“He’s a narcissist, a master manipulator who has everyone fooled,” she said.
Clevenger was one of about 20 people who attended the sentencing in support of the victims.
She said in 2011 she learned of Castillo’s earlier molestation conviction but believed a story he and his family told her in which they said it resulted from an angry relative who lied about him.
As Clevenger, speaking rapidly, continued to denigrate Castillo’s family, Oglesby interrupted and told her to speak only of the impact to her daughter and address her comments to the court.
Her faith in people is shattered, Clevenger said, her ability to trust others gone.
“He wasn’t the creepy guy in the white van,” she said. “He was a husband, a father, a coach, a friend.”