Former Portales police officer sentenced to 25 years

The mother of a Portales High School student at the center of charges against former city police officer Victor Castillo told the court her daughter dreamed of becoming a police officer.

Castillo

pleaded guilty to 17 of 34 charges

She said her then 16-year-old daughter's sexual relationship last year with Castillo shattered her trust of law enforcement officials and led to thoughts of suicide.

"He has taken everything from us," said the victim's mother gasping for breath through cries, at a sentencing trial Monday for Castillo. "Any respect we've had for people we thought were to protect us is gone."

At the end of emotional pleas from the victim's mother and Castillo's family, District Judge Donna Mowrer ordered Castillo, 46, to serve 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to maintaining a sexual relationship with the victim among other charges.

Castillo was a school resource officer at the time.

Castillo signed a plea and disposition agreement, pleading guilty to 17 of 34 charges, which include sexual exploitation of a child, criminal sexual contact of a minor, criminal sexual penetration of a minor and tampering with evidence.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler briefed Mowrer about the investigation of Castillo and the incidents that took place with the victim that prompted the investigation.

Chandler told Mowrer state police launched an investigation after being informed of a party that took place in Castillo's home northwest of Clovis, which involved the sexual activity of minors.

Castillo's cell phone was confiscated in light of the investigation and sent to a forensic lab in Albuquerque where 10,000 deleted photos and three videos were recovered from the phone, including more than a dozen sexually explicit pictures, according to Chandler.

Chandler disclosed journal entries from the victim that described a sexual relationship with Castillo last July on three separate occasions. Each time, Castillo was in uniform and visited the victim in his patrol unit, according to Chandler.

Chandler said the victim also admitted to sending Castillo sexually explicit photos and videos and that she initially did not tell the truth about the relationship because she was afraid she would get Castillo in trouble.

"He used his position of authority to gain trust from this child," Chandler told Mowrer.

Chandler read from one of the victim's journal entries that said the victim believed a relationship between a 16-year-old and 45-year-old (the age of Castillo at the time of their relationship) is OK.

"It shows the lack of maturity of her age and the way she was exploited as a child," Chandler said. "You cannot fix this, this is beyond rehabilitation. I believe 27 years in the department of corrections would be just."

Chandler Blair, Castillo's attorney, said there's no way to make light or lessen the seriousness of the charges against his client, but said Castillo has dedicated his life to serving others.

"He's a hometown kid," said Blair of Castillo, who grew up in Clovis. "He played baseball. He played football. He joined the (U.S.) Army and he has a total of 10 years of military service."

Blair also pointed out that this was Castillo's first offense and says his client has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has affected him badly and the decisions he's made.

"It's not his intent to be a lifelong criminal," Blair said. "He's realized he's wrong. He wants to get some help … Somehow I believe he's better than the worst thing he's done in his life."

Blair also requested a 60-day professional evaluation by a psychiatrist of Castillo before he serves his sentence.

Travis Castillo, a special education teacher, spoke on his father's behalf. He said what his father did was wrong but it's not in his character to hurt people.

"I got in a lot of trouble. He always made sure I stayed on the right side," Travis Castillo said. "I just ask you offer up a fair amount and see things work out and get fixed. I'll stand by him through everything."

Victor Castillo also gave one last plea before sentencing, apologizing to the victim's family and talking about his Army experience.

"I served my country, it was hard in Iraq," Castillo said. "You didn't know if you were gonna make the next day or not."

Castillo continued, "I take responsibility for the things that happened and I can't change or help what I did ma'am," he told Mowrer. "The plans I have is to get treatment."

Mowrer took about 15 minutes before returning with Castillo's 25-year sentence.

"Thus far, this is the worst thing you've done in your life," Mowrer told Castillo. "You were the adult in the situation and you've manipulated that for your benefit."

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