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‘I Have to Protect Society from You’

Requejo sentenced to five years in prison.

Even if Eduardo Requejo was sexually molested himself, as a child, that didn’t give him the right to do it to anyone else.

That was the message Judge Brett Kassabian gave him last Friday in Fairfax County Circuit Court. He then sentenced Requejo, 23, of Fairfax, to five years in prison for sexually molesting an 8-year-old girl.

"The defendant was only concerned for his own sexual gratification, not considering the harm he did to the child," said Commonwealth’s Attorney Laura Riddlebarger. "He told the police he was attracted to any child that paid attention to him, no matter the age."

Requejo taught swimming at the Oak Marr Rec Center in Fairfax since 2005 and was also a swim coach throughout the Fairfax community. But the offenses didn’t happen at his worksite and the victim wasn’t one of his students.

THE GIRL was someone he knew personally and, on July 3, 2013, her mother told police that her daughter had been inappropriately touched by him on several occasions. Detectives began an investigation and, on July 15, Requejo was arrested.

On Oct. 10, 2013 in Circuit Court, he pleaded guilty to two felony counts of taking custodial indecent liberties with a minor. He returned Feb. 28 for sentencing, with his parents sitting in the front row of the courtroom.

Defense attorney Katherine Martell said the state sentencing guidelines for each offense ranged from seven months to two years, two months. She asked Kassabian to sentence Requejo to the midpoint of one year, four months, with "suspended time hanging over his head."

"What happened is a tragedy, and he’s truly sorry," she said. "But it comes from a cycle of abuse. When he was 8, he was sexually molested by a relative for over a year. His family had to work several jobs and had to live with others. And he hid the abuse from his family because he was ashamed. It not only affected his sexual development, but led him to drugs and alcohol."

However said Martell, "After these offenses, he sought therapy on his own. He needs extensive therapy to become a more productive member of society. Turning to the Bible has also helped him confront his demons, and his parents will be supportive of him while he’s dealing with what led to this tragedy. He took responsibility for what he did, turned himself in to the police and pleaded guilty."

But the prosecutor said Requejo never reported his own sexual abuse to the police. She also asked the judge to give him the maximum punishment possible. "He says he has a sexual addiction, but that isn’t an excuse for his behavior," said Riddlebarger. "The only reason for it is himself. And he didn’t express remorse or concern for how his actions affected an innocent child."

Requejo then stood and apologized "for what I’ve done and for the shame I’ve brought to my family and to myself. Give me a chance to get the help I need and to deal with my own nightmare. It’s haunted me since I was in fourth grade." He asked the judge to let him continue his therapy, adding, "Now that I’ve found God, I’m trying to forgive myself."

Kassabian then told Requejo he planned to sentence him above the state guidelines and explained why. "I recognize that you come from an exceptional family of supportive and hardworking people," he said. "And I believe you were the victim of abuse and I understand why you couldn’t disclose it earlier."

THE JUDGE noted Requejo’s cooperation in his case and said his guilty plea showed acceptance of accountability. "The problem is that we have an 8-year-old, elementary-age child who was victimized by you on multiple occasions and will have to reconcile what happened to her for the rest of her days," said Kassabian. "I’m also concerned about your statement that you’re attracted to young children. That statement is chilling and, when I consider that, I have to protect society from you."

He then sentenced Requejo to five years in prison on each charge, suspending two-and-a-half years of each sentence. He ran the sentences consecutively, for five years total, and placed Requejo on five years active probation upon his release.

Conditions of his probation are that he receive sex-offender treatment, have no contact with the victim or her family and no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18. "And you’re required to register as a sex offender," added Kassabian. "You’re remanded to the custody of the sheriff."