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Rapist called 'good man' sentenced to 3 to 20 years

August 7, 2008

By Thatcher Moats Times Argus Staff


CHELSEA – A Williamstown man was sentenced in Vermont District Court in Chelsea to three to 20 years in prison Wednesday for molesting and raping a female relative but not before friends and family members – who acknowledged his crime – also told the court that he was a "good man."

Leonard Roya II, 39, also was given zero to six months for violating an abuse prevention order and his conditions of release when he harassed the victim and her husband after he posted $10,000 bail.

In addition, this November Roya is due to be sentenced on federal firearms charges for possessing a .12-gauge shotgun while out on bail.

Roya pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his victim, at times using a gun or knife, over two years starting in 2004 when the victim was a minor.

Roya's mother, son, and two friends took the stand for the defense on Wednesday, saying Roya was a hard worker and a good man.

John Clark said he has lived in Williamstown for 31 years, adding that his son was friends with Roya and graduated in the same class. Clark said he knows Roya on both personal and professional levels: The two have gone hunting, snowmobiling and enjoyed auto racing together; and Roya has done electrical work at Clark's business.

Clark described Roya as a helpful and fun to be around.

"He's been a good friend, and he's still a good friend," Clark said.

Clark said he learned most of what he knows about the charges against Roya in court on Wednesday.

"Do you have any concerns that he is a convicted child molester?" Orange County Deputy State's Attorney Robert DiBartolo asked Clark.

"No, sir," Clark replied.

Peter Zartin, a neighbor who has known Roya for 25 years, described Roya as a hardworking family man.

He didn't seem concerned with Roya's admission of guilt, either.

"What goes on in their house is their business," Zartin said.

Michael Roya, Leonard's adopted son, said Leonard Roya always has been his father figure. When asked to describe his relationship with his father, Michael Roya said he was "attached to his father's hip" as a boy.

It was during his son's testimony that Leonard Roya, who has short-cropped sandy-blond hair and wore jeans and an olive-green plaid shirt, started crying for the first time, wiping tears from his eyes.

Roya's mother, Jolene Roya, said her son is remorseful of what he did.

"He … knows what he did was wrong," she said.

But she also said he was a responsible man, pointing out that Roya ran the family business and attended Jehovah's Witnesses meetings regularly and "helped build kingdom halls."

She said the Jehovah's Witnesses "all love him, and they still love him," though Jolene said Leonard has lost his fellowship with the Jehovah's Witnesses because of the conviction.

Jolene said Leonard "got involved in looking at pornography on the Internet, and that's why he let his mind dwell on something he shouldn't have."

She said she thinks the family could have sat down with counselors and worked things out instead of this "vendetta" that was taking place.

Barbara Roya, Leonard's wife, testified Leonard Roya was obsessed with the victim and claimed he was dangerous.

Leonard Roya got out on $10,000 bail after he was charged with the crime, and moved back home.

Barbara Roya said she let Leonard Roya back in the house because she thought she didn't know the whole story, they had been married 18 years, she had to think of her sons, and she thought he could be treated and become a good father.

Asked if she believed the allegations, she said she did, but she let him come home because she thought maybe it was a "one-time thing."

But she said his behavior after he was released on bail scared her.

"He was so obsessed" with the victim, she said.

When Barbara Roya suggested he seek help for his obsession, Leonard Roya threw his lunch box at a door and put his fist in her face and said, "I could punch you right now," Barbara testified.

Then in February 2007, Roya followed the victim and her husband into the parking lot of the Berlin Mall.

The husband told Roya to leave, and Roya grabbed the man's neck, leaving marks, court records say. The husband punched Roya in an attempt to make Roya let go of his neck, and then Roya got into his truck and drove away, according to police.

That same day Roya was found to have the shotgun in his possession.

The victim was unwilling to testify against Roya, and the state dismissed the simple assault charge stemming from this incident as part of a plea deal.

Roya stood up in the court room as the proceeding drew to a close and apologized to his family, saying he takes full responsibility for his actions.

"I love all my kids, and I'm really mad at myself for messing up the opportunity to be with them," he said. "I'm sorry for costing the state all this money."

The state asked for three to 20 years; Judge Theresa DiMauro imposed the full sentence, despite the defendant's request he be sentenced to three to 10 years.

DiMauro justified the full sentence by pointing to the use of a gun in at least one sexual assault and a knife in another.

Roya also is not taking full responsibility for the crime, DiMauro said, trying to justify it in various ways.

During the pre-sentencing investigation, for example, Roya said he thinks society promotes "this type of thing" because young girls wear next to nothing in public.

And one reason Roya said he assaulted the victim was that he wasn't getting any attention from his wife, who worked nights.

"There are certainly other alternatives," DiMauro said.


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