Carlos Ruano at his sentencing hearing

Paul Wellman

Carlos Ruano at his sentencing hearing

Montecito Church Employee Sentenced for False Imprisonment

Carlos Ruano Will Serve Three Years of Felony Probation; Immigration Status Unclear

Friday, November 15, 2013
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Carlos Ruano, a Montecito church employee whose trial in September for molesting his step-granddaughter ended in a 9-3 hung jury in favor of guilt, was sentenced Friday according to a plea deal he later struck with the District Attorney’s Office. Under the deal — in which Ruano pleaded guilty to felony false imprisonment, meaning that he didn’t allow the girl to move during the alleged incident — Ruano was sentenced to three years of felony probation. He will be prohibited from contacting the girl but will not have to register as a sex offender.

Ruano received credit for time served and was released on his own recognizance, but on October 18, when Ruano entered his plea, he was under an Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) hold at the Santa Barbara County Jail. At the time, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said that ICE agents would have 48 hours after Ruano’s sentencing to pick him up. As of today, however, Ruano’s immigration status remains unclear. His attorney, Jeremy Lessem, said that Ruano’s hold was lifted and Hoover said that, as of this afternoon, Ruano wasn’t in County Jail custody. ICE officials said more information on Ruano’s immigration status may be released early next week.

Carlos Ruano sits with an interpreter at his sentencing hearing
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Carlos Ruano sits with an interpreter at his sentencing hearing

As had been the case throughout his trial, Ruano, 67, was supported during Friday’s hearing by members of the All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, where he worked for more than seven years as a sexton. Lessem said that with cases of this type, “usually you see friends and family run the other way” and that such support “says a lot about Carlos.” Accepting the plea agreement, Lessem continued, was “the smart thing” for Ruano to do for himself and his family. Once Ruano’s ICE status is settled and his probation is completed, Lessem said he may petition to have Ruano’s felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor and/or have the case expunged from his record.

Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Ladinig, who handled the case, said that the District Attorney’s office opted to go with the plea deal instead of a retrial because of the evidence and to spare the girl and her family. “All things considered, I think the outcome, while not perfect, was something we could live with,” Ladinig said.

Ruano’s original charge of felony molestation stemmed from an incident at his home last year. He told police that while he had been babysitting three children — including his step-granddaughter, who was seven years old at the time — the girl’s brother jumped on her, hurting her stomach in the process. While Ruano said that he rubbed ointment on the girl’s stomach and may have accidentally touched her underwear near her vagina, a further claim by the girl — which was deemed by Ruano and his supporters as something she was coerced into saying by her mother — included accusations that Ruano rubbed beneath her underwear, licked her chest, and exposed his penis. If he had been convicted of the original charge, a felony, Ruano would have faced up to eight years in prison, Ladinig said.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

A translator...having worked at All Saints for decades?

Hemlockroid (anonymous profile)
November 16, 2013 at 7:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

It is the DA's office which should be legally drawn and quartered in this matter. Joyce Dudley, unable to incarcerate this man constitutionally, had him held in the County jail 400 days in the general jail population at age 67 charged with child molestation - using an ICE hold as a really cheesy excuse to hold him - one of her gophers telling his family they could 'hold him indefinitely' - only to find a jury unable to convict, So what does this Dudley DoRight do ? She and her pal Auchincloss cook up a charge of 'false imprisonment' ( apparently rubbing balsamic ointment on one's young granddaughter's stomach after she's been kicked in the stomach by her unruly brother constitutes 'false imprisonment'), dismissing the child molestation charge, and using the false imprisonment charge to preserve her 'perfect record'. (You cannot make this stuff up). Then, when things seem to be really going South for our pal, she calls in ICE so she can then say 'Well, I had no control over the situation'. She should be fired on the spot for malfeasance in office. She and her shuck and jive boy prosecutor, Ben Ladinig, are running around touting that the jury was 9-3 in favor of conviction. In fact, the jury was 8-4, reportedly, against conviction, until one jury member, a Salvation Army officer, gave a fire and brimstone sermon on the evil in us all.

juandeveras (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2013 at 1 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The whole thing sounds very fishy to me. I know it's very politically correct to "believe the children" and crucify anyone accused of child molestation (the current version of Commie-baiting back in the '50's) but lots of people have gone down on false charges. Google "McMartin preschool case" for how kids can be coerced into making false claims.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2013 at 6:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

For the D.A. It is all about getting a win. Justice is a secondary consideration.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2013 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I can say without a shadow of a doubt, I would never
leave my children alone with that fellow,

zuma7 (anonymous profile)
November 18, 2013 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Zuma, there you go again, making sane, rational statements that represent fact & reality. You need to stop this or we'll have the politcally correct thought police at your door w/ no warrant, comprende?

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
November 19, 2013 at 4:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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