Child Rapist’s Sentence Lighter Than His Victim’s
By Jesse B. Gill
Sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not. What often slips through the cracks is how the victims and their families have to put their lives back together after having their lives shattered. Many times the sentence convicts receive—though significant—don’t reflect the lifetime of trauma victims will often be sentenced to.
This disparity is illustrated in the case of Michael Killala, who himself sentenced a teenaged boy to a lifetime of hell, making the 12-year prison bid he received look somewhat paltry in comparison.
Killala, 43, is from Peoria, Ariz. Federal prosecutors say he traveled to California twice—once in December 2011 and again in January—to meet and have sex with a 14-year-old Corona boy.
Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint alleging that once Killala showed up in Corona, he picked up the boy, got a hotel room in Ontario and drove him there. Then he loosened the boy up with a river of vodka before having his way with him.
Ontario and Corona detectives found out what you’ve probably already guessed—Killala and the boy met over the Internet and before the man made the trip to California, the two had chatted over the course of several months.
Because Killala was from Arizona—meaning his crime involved two states—the investigation went federal. FBI agents joined Ontario and Corona investigators when they arrested Killala Jan. 22 as he was checking out of the hotel room he used to have sex with the drunken teenager.
Days later, agents served a search warrant at Killala’s home and (you guessed it) they found some pretty incriminating evidence. They rifled through Killala’s cell phone and found more than 3,000 text messages between the man and the boy.
When investigators need to dig through the belongings and devices of suspected sexual predators and write search warrants to do so, they often include information that a lot of us already know: sexual predators generally aren’t the smartest kind of criminals. Of course, detectives don’t say that in so may words. But they will often mention that a typical behavior demonstrated by sexual predators is they like to take and keep photographs of themselves committing their crimes.
And, yes, investigators found that, too, when they searched Killala’s home. They found two photos of one of his sexual encounters with the Corona boy.
Investigators also found text messages between Killala and a different teenage boy, including the sexually explicit photos they exchanged.
Prosecutors say Killala admitted having sex with the boy in an interview just after he was arrested.
And it was all downhill from there. He was indicted in February on federal charges and pleaded guilty in August to possessing child pornography. A U.S. District Court judge sentenced him to 12 yeas in prison.
And it was during the sentencing hearing that we got an idea of the lasting impact Killala’s crimes had on the boy.
Yes, the kid was old enough to meet the man on the Internet and agree to meet him. But that doesn’t mean he was old enough to gauge the long-term effects of a sexual relationship with a man literally old enough to be his father, which is part of the reason the law says a kid his age can’t legally consent to sex in the first place.
As in any sentencing hearing, after the judge handed Killala his years, it was time for the victim impact statement. The boy didn’t speak, but his mother did on his behalf. (Victims aren’t identified in most sex abuse cases for reasons that should be pretty obvious. That includes not identifying victims’ relatives.)
“Killala preyed on our son for his own perverse sexual gratification,” the victim’s mother said.
The result? The boy is left severely traumatized, she told the court. He now suffers debilitating anxiety, flashbacks, overwhelming shame, anger, insomnia, nightmares and an extreme fear that Killala was going to kill him.
That’s what the boy gets. Maybe for the rest of life, maybe not, hopefully. The assumed love and support of his family and years of therapy may ease the effects of what he’s been through, but his punishment doesn’t have an expiration date. Killala’s does. In 12 years, he’ll walk free, and that’s not taking the possibility of parole into consideration.
And sure, we all like to imagine that child rapists get their . . . ahem . . . just desserts while behind bars. Does that kind of thing happen? Sure, but not nearly as often as we’re led to believe. Even if that kind of thing doesn’t happen to Killala, when he walks out of prison, he’ll do so bearing scars, physical and emotional, he earned on the inside.
But as an adult, Killala is better-equipped to deal with the lasting consequences of his own decision than a 14-year-old boy.
Investigators still believe Killala may have other victims. Anyone thinking they may think they may be or know a victim should call the FBI at (888) 226-8443.
Contact Jesse B. Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @IEW_WatchDog.