A Collins man was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing a 4-year-old New London girl.
Joseph B. Chairez, 26, of 774 Hartland Center Road, pleaded guilty July 3 to one count of rape in exchange for the state dismissing two similar charges. The offenses occurred in May and June 2006, when Chairez baby-sat a friend's daughter.
"As part of the plea agreement, he agreed to be (classified) a sexual predator," Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff said. That means Chairez faces a lifetime of address registration and verification with the sheriff's office after he is released from prison.
"The age of the victim was 4 years old, for God's sake. If he's not a predator, one doesn't exist," Woodruff said.
He explained that as of Jan. 1, a change in state law about sex crimes means "certain offenses" automatically results in defendants being classified as either a sex predator, habitual sex offender or the lowest category, a sexually-oriented offender.
In early May, a county social worker told New London Police Chief Mark Holden about a third-hand tip she received about a sexual assault involving Chairez and the victim.
The defendant, whom Holden described as regretful during a May 21 interview, admitted to sexually abusing the girl. The New London victim said she was abused three times.
Prosecutor Russell Leffler, after Chairez was convicted, said getting him to admit to raping the girl was important since the victim is so young.
Officers used a warrant to search Chairez's home May 22 and seized a laptop computer and several journals, which contained references to the attack. Authorities said they also discovered a home-made video of Chairez performing sex acts with two girls, 13 and 16, one of whom is from Florida.
As of early July, there were several ongoing investigations into the Collins man's conduct with three or more victims, from ages 13 to 17.
Woodruff said prosecuting Chairez in connection with those allegations is "up to the Florida authorities. ... The last I heard they were taking a look at it."