Montgomery man gets 37-year sentence for child abuse

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 15, 2010; B06

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Eric M. Johnson, who reduced the prison sentences of two child molesters in recent years, sentenced a child abuser to 37 years in prison Friday.

"This is reprehensible," Johnson said, summing up Virgilio Nunez's fondling of two young relatives over many years.

"Even if there were a couple of incidents, it's still a crime and you should be punished for it," Johnson added. "But in your case, what's difficult is you did this over such a long period of time with multiple young people."

Nunez was convicted of sexually abusing one girl over a seven-year period, beginning when she was about 9, and pleaded guilty to sexually abusing another girl over a two-year period, also beginning when she was about 9, according to prosecutors. They said he abused two others but was not charged in those incidents.

The sentence was near the maximum allowed for the two cases, and well beyond what Nunez's attorney said was the standard, recommended range. Johnson told Nunez that he did not leave his attorney, Michael Dobbs, with much room to work.

"There's not a lot your lawyer could say, and that's the reason that he, like any good lawyer, stayed away from the facts in this case, because there's just no way you can color it," Johnson said.

Nunez said in court Friday that he grew up around the civil war in El Salvador and had been kidnapped and tortured twice. He fled to the United States and eventually obtained permanent resident status. His convictions will probably lead to deportation after he completes his sentence, according to officials in the case.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company