As the ruins of the Twin Towers still huffed with ash, Juan Caballero, a decorated Marine vet, knew he had to step up. Somewhere in the skyscrapers’ remains lay a good family friend. The deceased man would leave a toddler girl fatherless. But not if Caballero had a say…
In the immediate days after that awful early autumn day, Caballero visited various New York City hospitals with photos of the girl’s father. As the months became years and the toddler became a little girl, Caballero assumed the role of her substitute father.
However, Caballero’s brand of chivalry also involved child molestation. The abuse began when the girl was seven; Caballero invited the youngster into a bedroom “to show her something.”
It would worsen over time, eventually consuming the better part of four years.
Initially, the girl couldn’t grasp what was happening to her because of her age. “I thought this happened to everyone,” she would say years after the abuse.
As she got older, though, she realized the evil of Caballero’s actions. Now a teenager, it took her years before she would report the abuse to her mother because of the closeness between her family and Caballero’s.
Earlier this week, the 38-year-old Airmont, New Yorkl man learned what his punishment would be for his pedophiliac duplicity: 13 years to life.
Citing Caballero’s distinguished mlitary career and absence of past criminal offenses, defense attorney Ishmael Gonzalez pleaded with the Rockland County judge for a minimum sentence of 10 years.
But as Supreme Court Justice William Kelly noted during the sentencing hearing, Caballero had originally blamed the victim for the abuse, saying she flirted with him and followed him around.