Crowd Protests Sentence of Ajay Dev Sentenced to 378 Years Last Week

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A crowd nearing 100 people, mainly family and friends of Ajay Dev, a Davis man who was sentenced to 378 years last week for the rape and sexual assault of his adopted teenage daughter.Superior Court Judge Timothy L. Fall sentenced Ajay Kumar Dev, 42, for his multiple count conviction of the serial molest and rape of his adopted daughter, which allegedly occurred between January 1999 and December 2004.

In June, a jury convicted Dev of 76 felony counts including 23 counts of forcible rape; 23 counts of forcible sexual assault; 27 counts of lewd acts with a minor; and 3 counts of attempting to dissuade a witness. The jury hung on three of the counts and returned not guilty verdicts on 13 others.

California law mandates full and consecutive sentences for the 46 forcible sexual assaults. Fall sentenced Dev to the upper term of eight years for each of those separate counts after saying the factors in aggravation, including violation of a position of trust, outweighed the sole factor in mitigation – the defender’s lack of prior record.  Fall also sentenced Dev to the legally mandated full middle term of two years each for two separate acts of witness dissuasion against the victim.

“A consecutive sentence of six years and four months was handed down for six other non-forcible counts of chid molestation for which the jury had convicted Mr. Dev,” stated District Attorney Jeff Reisig in a news release. “Judge Fall also sentenced the defendant to the upper term of three years on twenty-two other counts but the execution of those sentences was stayed pursuant to the Penal Code.”

At that hearing, dozens of family and friends filled the courtroom in support of a man they believed was innocent.  However, at that time, most had to remain silent.

Attorney Michael Rothchild, representing Mr. Dev, filed for an appeal.  “There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Dev, who was sentenced to nearly 400 years, was wrongly convicted and is an innocent man,” Rothschild said.

Yesterday, supports of Mr. Dev spoke out for what they saw as a miscarriage of justice and the conviction of an innocent man.

Some have suggested racial motivations for the conviction and the sentencing to the 378 year term.  They cited statistics on the percentage of people of color who are arrested for rape in Yolo County under Jeff Reisig compared to the overall population.

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It was pointed out by means of comparison, Brett Pedroia, a white man and the son of a respected Woodland business owner and brother of a major league baseball player, only received a year sentence after pleading guilty to molesting a 9-year-old boy multiple times.  A case which had physical and other evidence.

On the other hand, Mr. Pedroia instead of taking his case to trial, plead out, which would reduce the sentence drastically.  Mr. Dev hired a respected and feared attorney Michael Rothchild who believes his client innocent and fought the charges to the end.  According to family and friends, he was stunned when the June verdict convicted him on 46 forcible sexual assault on the victim.

Family members speaking yesterday, argued that Mr. Dev was wrongly convicted believing that the victim’s testimony was false, unreliable and had multiple points of contradiction.  There was no physical evidence introduced at trial and the conviction relied completely according to the family on one line of a pretext call that the DA alleged was an admission of guilt by the defendant.

According to two blog posts from jurors, the phone call was crucial to the findings.

Juror Blog: “Yes, her testimony was difficult to swallow. If for her testimony alone, he would be a free man. The phone call is what put him where he is now. I am confident that we made the correct decision.”

Juror Blog: In the pretext call, Ajay admitted to having sex with the victim after she was 18. The exact quote is “You f$#*ed me after age 18, that means you gave consent”. The entire defense was that no sexual relationship occurred and that it was a story made up by the victim. With his admission, that defense was completely disregarded.

According to the family, the phone conversation recorded on behest of Davis Police Detective Mark Harmon, was partially in English and partially in Nepalese.  They believe that that phone conversation was misinterpreted.

According to the family,

“The DA’s interpretation of what Ajay was saying to the accuser… was totally and completely false.  Any misunderstanding is due to language and cultural issues which are often times lost in the translation process.  Ajay was trying to explain to the accuser how our legal system works demonstrating that if a statement like this was made it could possibly ruin both her life and his.  He was NOT admitting to rape.”

The family contends that the phone conversation lasted 50 minutes, during which the defendant denies the charges at least 27 times.

The Sacramento Bee reported yesterday that Deputy District Attorney Steve Mount believed that the trial was fair including competing translations of a pretext phone call that many say is at the heart of the conviction.

The Vanguard is in the process obtaining the defense’s translation the conversation to evaluate the context of the statement.

Royston Sim contributed to this report.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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