An El Paso County man was sentenced Monday to 119½ years to possibly life in prison for what a prosecutor called “horrific” beatings of his adopted son that spanned two years.
Jeremiah Lovato, 41, showed little emotion as 4th Judicial District Judge Robert L. Lowrey rattled off the maximum penalty for many of the 18 counts of which Lovato was convicted in February.
Under Colorado law, one of the felonies, sexual assault, carries an indeterminate sentence of six years to life, based on the judgment of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Before delivering the sentence, Lowrey described the abuse as “extraordinary” and mentioned the graphic photographs that depicted the boy’s infected wounds from being beaten with a stick.
Prosecutors said Lovato also hit him in the head with a meat tenderizer, punched and strangled him, and stomped on his testicles when the boy attempted to roll over or otherwise deflect the blows.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, Mr. Lovato,” Lowrey said.
The victim – now 16 – is living with a foster family. Lovato’s parental rights were terminated before his trial in February, authorities said.
The Gazette generally withholds the names of juvenile victims, particularly in cases involving sexual assault.
The abuse came to light in January 2010, when the boy jumped a fence and ran for help rather than submit to another beating by Lovato. Prosecutors alleged the abuse began shortly after the boy went to live with Lovato in Craig in 2008 and escalated after they moved to a subdivision east of Colorado Springs.
Addressing the court in a black striped shirt and dark tie, the teenager pushed for a stiff sentence against the man prosecutors described as his captor.
“I’d like to see Jeremiah Lovato locked away for a long time because of all the things he ended up doing to me,” he said.
Others were more strident in characterizing the abuse.
“Mr. Lovato earned every year that he received,” said Diana May, the chief deputy district attorney who led the prosecution. “The abuse he inflicted, both mentally and physically, is the worst I’ve seen in my 17 years as a prosecutor.”
Janae Houser, a mother of three who sat on the jury that convicted Lovato on 18 of 21 counts in February, said she wept throughout the trial as prosecutors described the cruelties inflicted on the boy.
“You just wanted to hug him when he was giving his testimony – to let him know that there are people out there who are ready to love him,” she said.
Of Lovato’s stiff sentence, she said, “Justice was served.”
Lovato’s attorney, Shimon Kohn, said he was disappointed by the severity of the sentence. He had argued that imposing the maximum on each of the counts, would push his client’s sentence beyond what some have received for cases involving a death.
He asked that a public defender be appointed to lead Lovato’s appeal because the former Colorado Department of Transportation worker is now “indigent.”
Kudos to the judge for the courage to demand a meaningful sentence. Longer than any adoptive parenst who has abused a child to DEATH has ever gotten! I fear it will be appealed.