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Convicted molester gets 40 years

Press Photo by Ashley Martin The pickup of a Vicente Chacano supporter sits outside the Adams County Courthouse in Hettinger on Friday.

HETTINGER -- A judge sentenced a man accused of having sexual contact with a young girl to 40 years in prison during a hearing at the Adams County Courthouse Friday.

Vicente Chacano also faces charges for pulling a gun in court during a February trial associated with the crime.

Chacano, who continued to proclaim his innocence Monday, was found guilty in February of two of three gross sexual imposition charges involving a girl who was 13 to 14 at the time.

"In my opinion, the offenses that were committed here are the most serious offenses that can be committed against a person, because that person has to live with the consequences of those actions for the rest of their lives," Judge Bruce Haskell said.

Chacano was charged in May for 14 counts of attempted murder for allegedly pulling the gun and attempting to fire it during his trial after the jury announced a guilty verdict in February.

Each jury member, prosecuting attorney Jonathan Byers -- who tackled him after he attempted to fire -- and Sheriff Eugene Molbert are listed as victims of the attempted murder charges, Chacano's attorney, Kevin McCabe said.

Chacano's bond was set at $1 million for those charges, McCabe added.

A Chile native, Chacano used an interpreter throughout his court proceedings. Angela De La Cruz interpreted for him Friday.

"He needs another opportunity because he is very sure he never did what he was accused of and he has proof of that," De La Cruz said Chacano said, adding he didn't testify.

However, Haskell said any proof should have been presented at the trial.

Prior to sentencing, a presentence investigation was ordered.

Byers said the investigation shows Chacano "shows a complete disregard for his victim's feelings has no remorse and has no empathy for her."

Byers also suggested Haskell order Chacano to go through treatment, but Haskell denied the request.

"I'm struggling with that for one reason, that being that in order to complete treatment, a person has to admit the actions," Haskell said. "Mr. Chacano has consistently denied that he committed any offenses."

Haskell would not allow Molbert to testify Friday about allegations that Chacano attempted to fire a weapon at his trial, saying it was not relevant to the GSI charges.

Byers said "this factor weighs strongly against him if there are citizens that have to fear that he is going to attempt to do what he attempted to do in the courtroom."

He added it doesn't make him a good candidate for probation.

McCabe disagreed and pointed out Haskell and he may be at a disadvantage, since neither of them attended the trial.

"He's been well-liked throughout the community," McCabe said.

After the hearing, a handful of people who attended left the courtroom saying "corruption," "conspiracy" and "prejudice," but would not speak on record to the Press.

Byers and Molbert said they are satisfied with Chacano's sentence.

McCabe said the sentence is harsher than he expected it to be.

"There will definitely be an appeal filed by early next week," McCabe said.

Byers added he expects Chacano's victim to be satisfied with charges.

"She was not in favor of him being just deported because they were scared he was going to come back," Byers said. "The victim was very glad just in the verdicts in and of themselves because she was relieved to know that people believed her when she testified. I think this will be just icing on the cake to know that right now she doesn't have to be worried about her own safety."