SANTA ANA — Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Lisa Bartlett called for the resignation of Orange County Superior Court Judge Marc Kelly, who minimized the sentencing of Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto after he had been convicted of raping a 3-year-old girl.

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett speaks with reporters at a news conference in Santa Ana.
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett speaks with reporters at a news conference in Santa Ana.

Bartlett joined Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Spitzer, Supervisor Shawn Nelson and Bryan Scott, organizer of the “Recall Judge Kelly” campaign, at a press conference on April 9 in front of the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Bartlett called it an “unconscionable ruling,” and characterized it as “illegal.” She also called Kelly an “activist” judge “who must have forgotten his job is to protect the victim, not the predator.”

“As leaders of this county, we need to stand together to ensure our criminals receive the proper sentencing so our victims, their families, and the rest of our communities know they are protected,” Bartlett said in a Facebook post.

If Kelly does not step down, the supervisors said they will lend their political and fundraising muscle to get him ousted from his courtroom.

Nelson predicted that the earliest a recall election could be held would be in March of next year.

“We’re all upset and rightly so, but this is no sprint,” he said.

Finding that the defendant sodomized the toddler but that “the manner in which this offense was committed is not typical of a predatory, violent brutal sodomy of a child case,” Kelly sentenced Rojano-Nieto to 10 years in prison, less than half the legal minimum.

The mandatory minimum sentence under state law for the sexual assault would have been 25 years to life. However, Kelly ruled it would be cruel and unusual punishment and, therefore, unconstitutional to sentence Rojano-Nieto to a life sentence.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told City News Service his office intends to appeal the sentence.

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