A Buffalo man guilty of what prosecutors called “a heinous breach of trust” was sentenced to 12 years in prison Friday morning for sexually assaulting the 5-year-old daughter of a woman he lived with.
John A. Robertson, 26, pleaded guilty in Erie County Court in November to engaging in a criminal sexual act with a person under age 11. The young victim remains terrified that Robertson will get out of jail and hurt her again, according to Assistant District Attorney Rosanne Johnson.
The traumatized child was not in court for the sentencing, but her mother spoke for her.
“I’m disgusted at what this has done to myself and my family,” she said.
The mother described the girl’s constant fear that her abuser will reappear in their lives, and said that the child draws pictures of him to show others in case they see him.
“My daughter is so scared, as a mother it tears me apart,” the woman said. “The things she talks about with other kids, and in therapy ... Our whole family needs time to heal, but especially her.”
The mother had been a victim of domestic violence in the three years she shared her home with Robertson, Johnson said, and Robertson’s own son witnessed at least one sexual assault against the 5-year-old.
When the victim’s mother learned of the assault, she took her daughter to the hospital and called the police.
Defense attorney Frank LoTempio used his time to try to explain his client’s behavior rather than excuse it.
“He has very significant intellectual limitations and a very low IQ,” LoTempio said. “He was exposed to lead as a child and showed significant lead levels when tested. It’s very difficult for Mr. Robertson to understand what is going on sometimes ... he’s not so much a predator as someone who doesn’t understand the effect of his actions.”
Before pronouncing sentence, Judge Kenneth F. Case remarked on “just how despicable and repulsive what happened here really was” and added that he was offended that, after Robertson admitted to police that he assaulted the child and pleaded guilty, he later tried to deny he was at fault.
The 12-year prison sentence will be followed by 10 years of post-release supervision and an order of protection for the victim, to stay in effect until 2036.