Sex offender sentenced to additional time
NASHUA - A previously convicted sex offender was sentenced to serve another 10 to 20 years in prison Wednesday for molesting a 6-year-old girl in Nashua nearly six years ago. Although Ismael Malave, 43, contends he is innocent, Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge David Sullivan agreed to let him enter an "Alford" plea on a felony sex assault charge. The Alford plea is akin to pleading no contest, in that defendants admit only that prosecutors could prove the charge against them. The plea is named after Henry Alford, a North Carolina man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder to avoid the death penalty in the 1960s. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 1970, finding his plea was voluntary, not coerced. "It allows the defendant to make a business decision," Malave's lawyer, Jorel Booker said, and negotiate a resolution rather than face trial. Judges are sometimes reluctant to allow Alford pleas, however, and such pleas are more commonly used in cases where a defendant can't remember the events from which a criminal charge arose, because of intoxication, injury or both. Malave's unwillingness to admit his guilt could cost him an extra 10 years in prison, however. Under current prison policy, at least, Malave won't be considered eligible for parole until he's completed the sex offender treatment program, and he won't be considered eligible for the program until he is willing to admit his guilt. The girl whom Malave was convicted of molesting attended his sentencing hearing Wednesday along with several family members. In addition to his conviction for aggravated felonious sexual assault, Malave also pleaded guilty to witness tampering, admitting that he tried to persuade the girl and her mother not to cooperate with prosecutors. Patricia Benner, the lawyer representing the girl, warned the girl before the hearing that Malave might try to look her way, or even mouth words at her, but assured the girl that bailiffs would keep her safe from him. Malave's sentence also prohibits him from initiating any contact with the girl or her family, directly or through any other person. "He has intimidated this girl and her family to such a degree that he thinks he can manipulate them," Benner said, adding, "It's my belief that conduct will continue" if he isn't strictly forbidden from all contact. Benner read a statement by the girl's mother, who once had a relationship with Malave, and Assistant County Attorney Leslie Gill read a statement that the girl wrote. "You are mean. I don't like what you did to me. Why did you do it?" Gill read. "I am so mad at you because you hurt me. You hurt my body and you hurt my feelings." "I am so scared right now because you did that to me," she read. "I know you're not sorry." Malave has not apologized, and didn't do so Wednesday. Instead, he protested that his case took too long to be tried, and claimed that guards at the county jail have abused him. "My rights were violated basically in this state due to my being a minority," Malave said, adding later, "It's a criminal matter, what you all done to me." Malave also claimed that his lawyer hadn't explained to him previously that he wouldn't be allowed to contact the girl or her family. Booker told Sullivan that in fact, they had discussed it at length before Malave pleaded guilty Monday.Malave had been jailed since his arrest in 2005, held without bail on a single count of aggravated felonious sexual assault while also serving an eight- to 10-year sentence for statutory rape in Plymouth County, Mass. As part of his plea bargain, Malave agreed that 889 days of the time he's spent in jail would count toward his 10 to 20 year sentence. Malave also received lesser, concurrent sentences for witness tampering. Malave has a lengthy prior criminal record in his home state of Massachusetts, starting with a 1987 manslaughter conviction from a hit-and-run collision, for which he was sentenced to nine to 15 years in prison, according to the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board. Malave chalked up burglary, drug, weapons and reckless driving convictions around Massachusetts in the late 1990s and was convicted Aug. 31, 2005, on two counts of statutory rape. He was sentenced to eight to 10 years in state prison.