Citing a new set of sexual abuse charges, a Cook County judge Thursday nixed probation and sentenced Eduardo Patino to three years in prison for the 2012 molestation of a 15-year-old Wheeling girl he met on Facebook.
Cook County Judge Ellen Mandletort found Patino guilty in January and, at that time, denied prosecutors' motion to revoke his bond. She explained that she allowed him to remain free because she was considering probation.
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Pointing out that Patino was indicted on new sexual abuse charges two months ago, while he was out on bond and awaiting sentencing, Mandletort ordered the 25-year-old Niles man to the penitentiary.
She imposed the sentence despite an emotional plea for mercy from Patino's father, also named Eduardo, who described his son as an excellent student who acted without considering the consequences of his behavior or the age of the girl.
"If given the opportunity, he will correct his life," the elder Patino said.
"We failed as parents. We apologize to the young lady who suffered and to her family. If there was something we could do, we would do it."
A Wheeling police officer writing a ticket for an illegally parked car discovered Patino and the teenage girl engaged in a sex act, said prosecutors at Patino's March 2012 bond hearing. At that hearing, prosecutors said Patino and the girl had attended a party where both drank alcohol before they were discovered in the car.
Defense attorney Alfredo Acosta stated no evidence indicates Patino ever provided the girl alcohol, a point Mandletort noted for the record. Additionally, Acosta said his client and the girl knew the people who threw the party and that Patino picked the teenager up after she sneaked out of her house.
In requesting probation for his client, Acosta said Patino, a former University of Illinois and Oakton Community College student, worked two jobs to finance his education and "carries a high probability of becoming a productive citizen." He also suggested Patino is a good candidate for rehabilitation.
As for the March 2013 charges of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Acosta said the victim said she was with Patino but told police she does not remember what happened.
Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Crowe insisted prison was the appropriate sentence. Even though the victim experienced no physical injuries, she suffered psychological harm from Patino, who seduced her through Facebook and who enjoyed "some degree of trust," he said.
"Being convicted was not a deterrent," said Crowe, referring to Patino's subsequent charges, pending in Chicago.
A prison sentence in this case will serve as a deterrent, Crowe argued.
"We need to show (Facebook users) they can be safe on social media," he said.
Patino received credit for 68 days in custody. He must complete at least 50 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole and must register as a sex offender upon his release, Crowe said.