Man accused of assaulting two teen girls avoids jail, pleads to reduced charges
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- A Frederick County man accused of sexually assaulting two teen girls in early 2011 avoided jail time by pleading guilty to lesser charges.
Paul Brandon Galano, 38, of Buckingham Drive, Stephens City, appeared Friday in Frederick County Circuit Court to face trial on two felony counts each of aggravated sexual battery, and misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and purchasing alcohol for a minor. A conviction aggravated sexual battery carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.
Galano instead entered an agreement reached between the commonwealth and defense attorney J. Michael Solak under which the defendant pleaded guilty to the reduced charges of domestic assault and battery as amended in his original indictment on the sexual battery counts. Galano entered an "Alford plea" to the misdemeanor counts, meaning he maintains his innocence but admits the commonwealth has substantial evidence and the defendant does not want to take a chance of conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.
Retired Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. accepted the agreement, placed Galano on first-offender status and withheld adjudication of Galano's assault charges until April 7, 2016. Commonwealth's Attorney Glenn Williamson explained that Galano must remain on supervised probation for four years and, upon successful completion of the conditions of the release the court would then dismiss the charges.
Authorities accused Galano of touching two girls, 13 and 17, on their buttocks on the same day, according to Williamson. Indictments accused Galano of committing the offenses between Jan. 11 and March 1, 2011. In the incident involving the 13 year old, Galano hugged the girl, reached down and touched her on the buttocks under her dress, Williamson said. Regarding the 17 year old, the girl had complained to Galano she looked fat and, after he told her she wasn't the defendant touched her on the buttocks, Williamson said.
"I did represent to the judge in open court that the victims were adamant that they did not want Mr. Galano to be incarcerated and even though they didn't waiver in their statement as to what had occurred that they thought we were treating the matter more seriously than what it deserved," Williamson said by phone later Friday. "I am in no way intending to be critical of the victims. ... It was very much their desire that he not be incarcerated."
The alleged victims, with whom Williamson said he met several times, expressed no problems with the outcome as dictated in the agreement, the prosecutor said.
Galano pleaded guilty to the two counts of purchasing alcohol for minors and received 30-day jail sentences, all time suspended, and ordered to pay a $500 fine for each charge. Galano had provided alcohol to the same 17-year-old girl in the assault case and an underage friend of the family, according to Williamson.
The court dismissed Galano's remaining counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.