More than a month ago, Antonio Olivas pleaded guilty to child molesting – admitting to sexually abusing a young girl when she was about 10 years old.
But during his sentencing hearing Monday morning, his family members were split over his actions, with his wife and other supporters on one side of the courtroom, and the girl’s family and other relatives of Olivas on the other side.
Both factions reacted emotionally as one by one people went to the witness stand in Allen Superior Court to share their thoughts on Olivas, and what should happen to him.
In April, prosecutors charged the then 32-year-old Fort Wayne man with five Class A felonies and two Class C felony charges of child molesting – accusing him of everything from sexually fondling the young girl to having intercourse.
According to court documents, he sexually abused the girl, who was known to him, on multiple occasions for many years.
In February, Olivas pleaded guilty to a Class B felony charge, one added by prosecutors at the time of the plea. As part of the agreement, the additional charges were dismissed, but his sentence was left solely to the discretion of Allen Superior Judge John Surbeck.
Throughout the hearing, Olivas wept openly, occasionally interjecting, even when the judge spoke to him.
And his wife often shook her head, especially as prosecutors and those speaking on behalf of the young girl, talked about Olivas’ crimes.
Family members and a priest characterized him as a good father, a generous and “big-hearted” man who would do anything for anyone, and someone who was truly remorseful for what he did.
His wife expressed solidarity, and asked he be allowed to remain with her and their children.
“It’s heartbreaking to see all these people turn their backs on him,” she said. “He prays for them … I believe what is in my heart is right, and I won’t back down.”
But the victim’s father described another point of view – and expressed outrage at those who were quick to speak for Olivas, but did nothing to protect the girl.
“There is nothing that can be done to save her innocence,” the girl’s father said. “I couldn’t prevent this from happening, but I can hope it will never happen again.”
Olivas’ attorney, Harold Myers, cross-examined the victim’s family members who testified – asking her father why he had missed some of her counseling sessions.
A member of the Indiana National Guard, the man said he had been preparing for a deployment.
Myers also questioned another family member, who said she too had been molested by Olivas, whether she was speaking for the victim or came to court to get “15 minutes of fame.”
“I came here for the child,” the woman said.
Olivas said he was sorry for the pain he caused his family, and he expressed a desire to prove he was a decent person.
But, as Surbeck noticed, Olivas did not mention remorse for what he did to the girl.
“You have committed multiple offenses,” Surbeck said to Olivas. As he spoke, Olivas’ wife shook her head from her seat, lips tight.
He reminded those in the gallery to keep in mind that Olivas admitted committing a crime, a sex offense against a child.
“A violation of the child did happen,” Surbeck said, adding he saw a total lack of acknowledgment from Olivas for his behavior.
Surbeck sentenced Olivas to 14 years in prison, but suspended four years and ordered those years to be served on probation.
Olivas is a credit-restricted felon because of the nature of the crime, and will have to serve the majority of his sentence behind bars.
He must also register as a sex offender.