LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Richard Christiano, 58, stood hunched and sniveling before Judge Dennis Cohen on Thursday as he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for repeatedly raping his girlfriend’s daughter.
Judge Dennis Cohen, First Assistant District Attorney Victor Rowcliffe, and defense attorney Peter Pullano resolved the case with a sentence of 20 years in state prison with 20 years post release supervision, as well as an 8-year order of protection in favor of the victim, who was 8 when the crimes began and is now 17. All of those involved in the case reflected on the degree of selfish evil that went into these crimes and how deeply the case affects the victim, the family, and the community.
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“The acts that you have committed are horrendous and despicable, and the extent of the depravity in this case is hard to rationalize,” said Judge Cohen at sentence. “The threats, the selfishness, the fear against a variety of people who are weak and innocent, make these some of the worst crimes that can be committed against human beings in this society. It is the sentence of this court that you will serve 20 years in state prison, and, if you make it to your release date, 20 years of post release supervision. There is also an 8-year order of protection in favor of the victim, which will expire in May of 2063, if my math is correct when you are 106 years old. This will protect the victim from you in all inevitability for long after you’ve passed.”
ADA Rowcliffe said that the negotiated plea was one step down from the maximum by design, to avoid re-traumatizing the victim by forcing her to testify at Grand Jury and possibly at trial in open court.
“These cases are always hard for prosecutors, and the police as well,” said ADA Rowcliffe. “One wants to prosecute the offender to the fullest extent but also wants the victim to be able to move on and avoid stress, additional trauma, and emotional problems.”
Pullano added that Christiano has always been willing to go along with the investigation and is willing to face what will come.
“My client was given the opportunity to plea, and was given one step off of the maximum, which is life,” said Pullano. “It’s a complicated case, I don’t think anyone involved wants to relive or re-discuss it. He’s willing to serve a sentence for what he’s done. He’s certainly remorseful, and hasn’t had any contact with anybody going back a few years.”
As Christiano re-entered the Livingston County courthouse holding area for the last time, a single tear could be seen clinging to the end of his hooked nose. Based on his statements to police, he committed these vile acts against the victim at least 300 times. Judge Cohen anticipates that if he makes it to his release date he will likely be deemed a level 3 sex offender, or at maximum risk to re-offend.
Christiano was arrested in December 2014 and investigated by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office.
PHOTO CAPTION: Christiano is led into the Livingston County Jail after sentence. (Photos/Josh Williams)
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