Former law enforcement officer Rex Garcia was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for molesting a relative from 2009 until 2015.
Garcia was found guilty in December of continual sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14. He was facing up to 12 years in prison.
But Superior Court Judge Jonathan Conklin granted Garcia some leniency by giving him only six years, saying he did not have a criminal history and was in poor health.
The 74-year-old Garcia, who spent 31 years in law enforcement, was ushered into court in a wheelchair.
In explaining his decision, Conklin wanted to make it clear that he was not diminishing the seriousness of the crime and the pain it caused the victim. He said she showed "tremendous courage" and he had no doubt Garcia was guilty.
Prosecutor Amy Freeman was feeling less lenient. She was pushing for the maximum. "I have yet to hear him take responsibility or show remorse for his actions," Freeman said.
She also took issue with his defense attorney's argument that his age and health were factors in how long he should spend in prison. "His age did not keep him from molesting..." she said.
Freeman also read a statement from the victim. In it, the victim spoke about losing her connection with Garcia and his family, a family she trusted. She talked about being ashamed, feeling depressed and having suicidal thoughts.
"I wish I could take all this pain away," Freeman read from the statement. ""I've lost my home, my happy place, my self-confidence, and my love for myself."
The victim's mother also spoke out against Garcia, saying he had ruined their family and that her daughter is forever changed.
"It breaks my heart that my daughter has to go through this," she said. "And I don't know why he would do this."
Garcia, who spent 10 years as a Fresno police officer and nearly 19 years as a Fresno County Sheriff's deputy and bailiff, spoke briefly during Thursday's sentencing. He argued against a 12-year sentence, saying he would die in prison.
"It is hard to fathom what is being recommended," Garcia said. "Any length of time will be more like a death sentence."
Garcia's attorney Curtis Rodriguez of San Jose said he and his client have not decided on whether to appeal the case. "It is an option," he said.