Jose Baez-Ortiz was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday for putting his hand up the skirt of a 6-year-old girl.
Prior to the sentence being handed down, Baez-Ortiz tearfully asked Judge Sites for leniency. Sites gave Baez-Ortiz the maximum sentence of 15 years, adding that the lewd conduct occurred in a school and that the defendant preyed on a young, vulnerable child.
Baez-Ortiz also received 15 years of probation to follow his prison sentence.
Jurors convicted Baez-Ortiz Nov. 15 of lewd conduct after he admitted he had an urge to touch the child like a woman.
Assistant State Attorney Lauren Randall told jurors that Baez-Ortiz worked as a school janitor and had already been chastised twice by the school’s principal for being overly-friendly with students. Baez-Ortiz was specifically instructed not to touch the children and to stay out of the cafeteria while they ate lunch.
On April 17, 2017, Baez-Ortiz walked into the cafeteria and sat down next to a 6-year-old girl. A worker in the cafeteria saw him sitting next to the girl with his hand up her skirt, rubbing her thigh.
Security cameras in the cafeteria caught Baez-Oritz sitting down next to the girl and putting his hands under the table. The cafeteria worker immediately reported the incident, and law enforcement was called.
Baez-Ortiz told detectives that he thought the girl was beautiful and he wanted to touch her. He also admitted to putting his hand up the girl’s skirt.
“The two of us were sitting, and I put my hand on her little thigh,” Baez-Ortiz said. “I had the urge to touch her.”
The defense claimed the only reason Baez-Ortiz said these things is because he was scared of authority figures and decided to parrot back what the detective said.
But Randall told the jury it was not reasonable for a man to admit putting his hand under the skirt of a 6-year-old just to appease an authority figure.
“If the defendant is so subservient and scared of offending an authority figure, why do we have clear evidence of him thumbing his nose at the principal, who is his authority figure at work?” Randall asked jurors.
“Under what moral code is it OK for a man to make himself feel better by touching a little girl? What he did was a crime,” Randall said in her closing arguments. “His hand was somewhere it had no business being.”