Courts

Firefighter seeks lax sentence in sex assault case

This story involves violent sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Lawyers for a former county firefighter, convicted of forcing himself on a drunk woman and penetrating her with his fingers after a night out downtown in 2015, want a judge to sentence him to a minimum term of three years in prison.

Attorneys Monica Quinlan and Thomas Johnson wrote in a brief that the case against Christian Madrigal is “one of the least serious cases of this type,” and asked for a lower sentence compounded by Madrigal’s youth at the time, his service as a firefighter, and his previously clean criminal record.

“This argument is not meant to say that his conduct was justified or legal, the jury has made its decision,” a portion of the brief says. “But when we discuss what is a more mitigating case versus a more aggravated one, there is no avoiding a difficult discussion.”

Madrigal was convicted of two felonies in May after he pinned a woman down on his sofa, rubbing her genitals with his fingers before abruptly inserting them inside of her, over her objections, after they met through mutual friends at the woman’s birthday party.

Madrigal, his girlfriend, and two others met up at his apartment downtown, where he served the group drinks and they walked to the Mix. While there, Madrigal spent much of the time preoccupied with the victim, even though his girlfriend was present.

He ended up walking his girlfriend back to his apartment later that night, but quickly turned around and came back to the Mix to flirt with the victim and touch her. At the end of the night, Madrigal walked the woman home to his apartment, where he groped her bottom and led her inside. He then began to sexually assault her.

“[The victim] continued to tell Defendant to stop and tried to push him away,” prosecutors wrote in a brief. “[She] said, during this entire encounter, she said no dozens of times while pushing Defendant away.”

At one point, the victim felt “intense pressure” that felt “very different from Defendant’s fingers” in her vagina and blacked out – she had never had sex until Madrigal violated her. He began using the woman’s hand to masturbate, but his crime was stopped in its tracks as the woman’s phone alarm began to go off.

A probation report in the case said that the “intense pressure” felt by the victim in her vagina was Madrigal’s penis. His lawyers take issue with that conclusion and want it struck from the probation report.

Madrigal flung his body down onto the sofa, pretending to be asleep as his girlfriend – the one he walked home earlier in the night – woke up and came out of the bedroom. He was arrested six years later after the victim told detectives she wanted to reopen the case and they began to chase leads.

In the brief filed on Tuesday, the lawyers said that Madrigal’s victim gave him “mixed signals” that led him to believe his assault on her was consensual and said he should be sentenced under youth sentencing guidelines because his frontal cortex wasn’t done developing. Under California law, “youth,” as it pertains to sentencing guidelines, is anyone under the age of 26 at the time the offense was committed. Madrigal was one year younger than that.

“On the spectrum of how aggravating these offenses can be, we must recognize that this case falls on the more mitigating side, especially because Mr. Madrigal has no prior record and served his community in a noble profession prior to this case,” the brief said.

As of Tuesday, prosecutors had not filed a response. They will likely argue against the matters raised by Madrigal’s lawyers at a sentencing hearing currently scheduled for the 8th. His victim, whom The Update is not identifying, has asked for him to be sentenced to 14 years.

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