The state Superior Court has upheld a lengthy prison sentence for a Hazleton man who was convicted by a Luzerne County jury of raping a girl.
Ricardo Perez-Toledo, 31, formerly of Puerto Rico who resided on Seybert Street, was convicted on Oct. 18, 2012, of rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and two counts of indecent assault. The jury convicted Perez-Toledo despite the 13-year-old girl testifying that he did not rape her.
Judge David W. Lupas sentenced Perez-Toledo to 22 to 44 years in state prison.
Perez-Toledo appealed his sentence, claiming errors were made before and during his trial.
Hazleton police charged Perez-Toledo in January 2011 after a guidance counselor at Hazleton Elementary/Middle School reported the girl told her he was raping her. The girl had told a friend and was medically treated by a physician.
Perez-Toledo claimed Lupas allowed a Hazleton police detective to read the girl’s testimony at the preliminary hearing during the trial.
The girl recanted during the trial, saying that Perez-Toledo did not rape her and is innocent. Her testimony during the trial was inconsistent from what she said during the preliminary hearing, where she testified Perez-Toledo did rape her, according to court records.
Prosecutors during the trial presented the school guidance counselor, the girl’s friend and the physician, all of whom testified the girl told them that Perez-Toledo had raped her.
The Superior Court ruled against Perez-Toledo, saying “hearsay” evidence is allowable under the “Tender Years exception,” which governs hearsay statements made by a child 12 years of age or younger.
Prosecutors said the girl was abused by Perez-Toledo for several years beginning when she was 7 years old.