A defense attorney for Jorge Alcon, a 71-year-old accused of molesting a 4-year-old girl while on the job, argued that her client might not live to see the end of a lengthy prison sentence.
Because of that, Valerie Goudie urged the jury to show mercy to the former Department of Human Services worker in Bentonville, Arkansas.
“We don’t know if he will walk out of prison if you give him 20 years,” she said, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
On Thursday, the jury found Alcon guilty of child sexual assault after prosecutors alleged he took a 4-year-old girl into the bathroom and made the child touch his genitals. The jury recommended no prison time, according to 4029TV, and a $15,000 fine.
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Judge Brad Karren upheld the decision. That wasn’t the result Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith said he hoped for.
“While I am grateful for the jury’s guilty verdict in a difficult case, their decision to only sentence the defendant to pay a fine is disappointing,” Smith told the Democrat Gazette. “My prayer is that the victim and her family can come to understand that while justice in this life is sometimes imperfect, it is always perfect in the next.”
Police allege that Alcon molested the girl, currently in the foster system, while driving her to visit her biological family. He was arrested in March 2017, according to 5News, but the man initially said he never assaulted the child.
Alcon told deputies that he would take the girl into the bathroom — but only because he had a prostate issue that made urinating difficult, 5News reported. Alcon said he didn’t want the girl to be alone and that she was in the bathroom with him about six times.
He also accused the girl of initiating the sexual contact, the Democrat Gazette reported.
Alcon started working for the Arkansas Department of Human Services in 2000, according to 5News. It was his job to transport children to meetings, DHS spokeswoman Amy Webb said, and he passed all required state and federal background checks until he was fired in 2015.
Deputy prosecutor Carrie Dobbs argued that Alcon deserved a harsh punishment because of his decision to target a vulnerable child while in a position of power over her. But Jay Martin, a defense attorney for Alcon, told the Democrat Gazette that he didn’t expect the jury to find his client guilty at all — let alone give him time behind bars.
“They did not want him to go to prison,” he said.