Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

September 12, 2013

Man pleads to child charges

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A Mexican citizen living in Lockport is looking at up to a year in Niagara County Jail after admitting Wednesday to having inappropriate physical contact with a Barker girl under the age of 17.

Martimiano Vasquez-Santiago, 32, of Locust Street, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor. He admitted to having physical contact twice in the fall of 2011 with a girl who was 15-years-old at that time.

As part of the plea deal, Vasquez-Santiago waived his right to appeal and received a full stay-away order from the victim.

In December, Vasquez-Santiago was arrested by state troopers and was charged with third-degree rape and child endangerment originally. Vasquez-Santiago, who has been living in the United States for 12 years, also faces possible deportation, his attorney Dominic Saraceno said.

Prior to the plea deal agreement, a motion was filed by Assistant District Attorney Cheryl L. Nichols that would have kept the defense from bringing up the victim’s sexual history during trial.

Saraceno said Vasquez-Santiago admitted to having sexual contact with the victim while being questioned by a state trooper in December. The trooper reportedly said in an Aug. 12 court hearing he told Vasquez-Santiago that the victim’s baby looked like him.

The child is not Vasquez-Santiago’s, Saraceno said in court. He questioned how voluntarily Vasquez-Santiago’s admission really was.

”It would be harmful if I weren’t allowed to ask about that,” Saraceno said.

Nichols cited the state’s rape shield law, which does not allow that type of evidence to be used, with a few exceptions.

County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III ruled that none of those exceptions to the rape shield law were applicable in Vasquez-Santiago’s case. After a short break, Vasquez-Santiago agreed to the plea deal.

Free on bail, Vasquez-Santiago will be sentenced Nov. 6.

In other Niagara County Court cases this week:

• A Polish citizen living in Lockport was given a combined sentence on Monday, a result of his gulity plea in May to felony driving while intoxicated.

Niagara County Judge Sara S. Farkas placed Mariusz Swider, 37, of Sunnyside Street, on five years’ probation, but must serve the first six months in the Niagara County Jail. He also was fined $2,500.

Swider was arrested Aug. 3, 2012, in the City of Lockport and again on Sept. 14 in the Town of Lockport. In the first incident, Swider’s car ran off the road, and he was ordered to pay the homeowner $750 for lawn damage.

Swider has multiple arrests, Farkas said.

• Another case before Farkas ended in applause Monday, as she dismissed all charges against a Town of Lockport woman who succeeded in the court’s judicial diversion drug treatment program.

Victoria R. Russell, 29, pleaded guilty to a felony last summer for selling Suboxone a year earlier in Wilson. But Russell made it through diversion without a single sanction. The program is known for having a very low success rate.