SOUTH BEND — In Pacific County Superior Court on Oct. 27, Samael James Calderon, 31, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term to be served before he is eligible to petition for his release from prison for his convictions of rape of a child in the first degree, rape of a child in the second degree, and first degree child molestation.
Calderon pleaded guilty to the charges on Oct. 6, according to a press release from Mark McClain, Pacific County prosecutor.
“Mr. Calderon was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence, meaning he will only be eligible for release after he serves 16 years in prison and even then only if he can convince the board that he is no longer a danger to our community, something we actively participate in to ensure the board knows how important these cases are to our community,” McClain said. “Even if Mr. Calderon is released, he will be actively supervised by the Department of Corrections for the remainder of his life, will be required to register as a sex offender, will not be able to go where children may be, and will be prohibited from contact with minors.”
The Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB) serves much like a parole board, meaning they grant or deny release, and an offender must then petition again for release.
McClain said his office views sex offenses as the most egregious cases they encounter, and remain actively engaged long after the court case is over.
“Unlike a number of other communities, we stay engaged in sex offense at the ISRB level and have successfully kept a sex offender from being released earlier this year,” he said.
McClain cited the example of Mattias Joshua Ganino, who was convicted of child molestation in 2013 and sentenced an ISRB sentence. In 2017 he became eligible for release after serving his five-year minimum term. Ganino was denied release in June citing as part of their decision a letter from the Pacific County prosecutor “strongly recommending against release.” Ganino will now serve an additional 24 months of prison before he is again eligible to petition for release from prison.
The Calderon case “is a perfect example of how successful an investigation can be when law enforcement — here Chief Dave Eastham [of the South Bend Police Department], and our new Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) — come together to protect crime victims,” McClain said in an earlier press release announcing the guilty plea.
In early June 2017 Calderon’s girlfriend, whose name was not released to protect her identity as well as that of the victims, told South Bend Police that her minor daughters had been inappropriate touched by her boyfriend. Chief Eastham scheduled a forensic interview through the CAC, which conducts detailed interviews related to child abuse or sexual assault in a child-friendly environment, and learned there were two victims of sexual assault.
“Because the Chief used the CAC, the interviews were recorded so that the police, as well as the prosecution and defense, were able to understand the allegations without the need to further interview the children, which, by design, reduces the trauma to the children,” McClain said.
Eastham then conducted an independent investigation and verified the allegations before arresting Calderon. Calderon was held on $250,000 bail pending trial.
“While the matter was pending trial an additional victim came forward and, likewise, a forensic interview was conducted. This process and investigation allowed us to get justice for all three children and their families without a trial, something every family wants in cases like this. In the end, this is exactly what was intended when we developed our local CAC: a collaborative investigation centered around reducing further harm to these children while holding sex offenders accountable,” he said.
Other recent cases
On Nov. 3, Edgar Robert Archambault, 27, of Shelton pleaded guilty to indecent liberties, second-degree assault, and third-degree assault, concluding an investigation that began on Oct. 13, 2017, McClain said.
A female, whose name was not released to protect her identity, had been walking on the beach when she was accosted by Archambault, who approached from behind, groped her over her clothing, then forced her to the sand. She was able to get away and made contact with a passerby who intervened. Archambault retrieved a pitchfork from the back of the good Samaritan’s pickup truck and threated both of them. Eventually, Archambault ran away into the dune grass. He was subsequently apprehended by responding Long Beach Police officers.
After being identified by the victim as her attacker, Archambault was arrested and transported to the Pacific County Jail. While en route to the jail, Archambault began slamming his head into the divider. Fearing Archambault would injure himself, the deputy stopped his patrol vehicle to secure him. In the process, Archambault kicked the deputy, McClain said.
“This type of assault is exceedingly rare for our area and on the beach in particular, but thanks to the swift actions of both a concerned passerby and the Long Beach Department, the assault was averted and we were able to hold Mr. Archambault accountable for his conduct,” McClain said.
Sentencing is currently scheduled for Nov. 17. Archambault, who has no prior criminal convictions, faces between 26 to 34 months in prison, followed by an additional 36 months of supervision by the Department of Corrections. “Mr. Archambault has not been convicted of a strike offense and will be required to complete sexual deviance treatment while in prison and upon release will be required to register as a sex offender,” McClain said.
On Oct. 27, Kirt Douglas Jones, 54, of Ocean Park pleaded guilty to residential burglary of an Ocean Park residence.
Co-defendant Robert Merrill remains accused of the U Street burglary that occurred in January 2017, McClain said. With his plea, Jones joined three of his co-defendants in prison for the next 73 months.
“As part of this plea Jones also admitted to a previously unsolved U street burglary and identified a firearm taken as well as identifying others involved,” McClain said.
According to McClain, without Jones’ admission the second burglary would have likely never been solved.
Jones’ conviction ends an investigation that began Jan. 28 with a cold burglary report of a U Street residence. Pacific County Deputy Sheriff Rick Goodwin responded and was able to determine the intruders entered the vacant house and spent several days attempting to open a large safe in the residence. They were eventually able to use a cutting torch and a grinder to open the safe and made off with a number of firearms, ammunition, coins, and other personal property. Initially four suspects were arrested and later a fifth, Merrill, was implicated and remains on release pending trial.
“Deputy Goodwin, working closely with other members of the Sheriff’s Office and did a great job piecing this case together. They truly worked closely with us to ensure there was a convicting and a significant prison sentence imposed in these cases,” McClain said.
Jones, who said his life-long drug addiction was at the root of these burglaries was granted a prison-based drug offender sentence. This means he will complete drug treatment while in prison and on early release. However, if he fails to complete the court-ordered treatment he will be returned to prison to serve out the balance of his prison sentence.