YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: An aspiring singer who was convicted of sodomizing a 14-year-old Teaneck boy was sentenced today to seven years in state prison, but a judge released him on bail pending an appeal alleging juror misconduct.
William J. Sanders, 34, remained expressionless during highly emotional testimony today from the victim’s mother and father, who took in Sanders and his brother in the hopes of nurturing their musical careers.
His face contorted in pain and his eyes filled with tears, however, when his attorney discussed the death last December of Sanders’s wife, leaving their now-7-month-old daughter motherless.
Now a college student, the victim testified at length during the trial in a controlled but apparently stressed manner. He didn’t attend today’s sentencing, however, because he “can’t handle it,” his mother said.
“He was brutally raped by someone he loved and trusted,” said the woman, who is a music coach and producer.
“My son is dying, your honor,” she told Superior Judge Edward A. Jerejian. “He’s thin, he’s not himself, he’s seeking counseling. He is despondent, depressed. He lost a lot of weight.”
“There is no easy way to discuss the despair, pain and suffering the rape of our son has caused our family,” the victim’s father told the judge. “I broke down on the witness stand recounting what happened to my son at the hands of a person we trusted as a family member.
“It is as if he has been in prison for the almost five years since the rape occurred. He has had counseling. He has to fight over the question of why someone he had trusted would break his spirit so completely.”
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Demetra Maurice noted that most sexual assault occur within family units — and in just about every case tears them apart.
“It is tragic and sad what has happened in Mr. Sanders’ life,” she told Jerejian. “But we are here because Mr. Sanders violated the trust and opportunity of being in a family’s life.
“To this day, the defendant talks out of both sides of his mouth. He says he loves this family and then he backdoors it — saying that this young boy would make up stories of anal penetration because he is getting family pressure. He blames it on the one person who looked up to him and loved him as a brother.
“It’s completely nonsensical ,” she said. “It was put before the jury and they rejected it completely, and he must be punished for what he did.”
Defense attorney Robert Kalisch said the appeal came about after he was contacted by a juror who said another juror disclosed that her father did nothing about an act of sexual harassment by another family member when she was 4 years old.
The juror didn’t tell the entire panel but, rather, the juror who contacted Kalisch. That person insisted during deliberations that the entire jury be told, the attorney said.
Jerejian said he believes the alleged juror misstep didn’t affect the outcome of the trial, which ended with Sanders’s conviction in October. He questioned each juror extensively, he said, and not one of them — including the one who contacted Kalisch — thought that it affected their decision.
The judge nonetheless said: “I know this is going to be the subject of an Appellate Court ruling.”
He allowed Sanders to post $100,000 bail and go home to Georgia, under supervision, pending the outcome of his appeal. Sanders also must register as a Megan’s Law offender.
If nothing is changed, he will have to serve five years and 10 months before he is eligible for parole.
He also must submit a DNA sample, abide by a Nicole’s Law restraining order prohibiting contact for life with the victim of his family for life, and be monitored under lifetime parole supervision.
Sanders assaulted the boy — now in his 20s — in his studio apartment, then tried to drive him to an important high school event, Maurice told jurors during the trial. The youngster was confused and frightened, however, and called his father to say that he wasn’t going in, she said at the time.
The father testified that his son was “incredibly upset” on the phone the night of the event. READ MORE….
STORY / PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia