SOLANA BEACH — A 20-year-old man who admitted to having sex with a then-12-year-old Earl Warren Middle School student was sentenced to three years of probation today, which the victim’s mother in a letter likened to “giving a child ‘time out’ with no severe consequences.
Judge Michael Washington sentenced Jeff Calica to three years in state prison, but suspended the sentence in lieu of Calica’s successful completion of probation.
Washington, who called the offer “generous,” said that Calica was being given a final opportunity to “show the world who you are.”
“You need to understand how the world views you, that you are a sexual predator,” Washington said. “And you might look at it as you didn’t force her, but the young girl was 12, you weren’t 12 or 13, and you were old enough to know that.
“If you decide not to take this seriously, as soon as (probation) finds you in violation, you are going to go to prison,” Washington continued. “Your youthfulness is not a defense anymore.”
Calica, who lives in Oxnard, admitted to befriending and later romancing the victim online through his YouTube page before driving from Oxnard to Solana Beach on three separate occasions, having sex with the girl in his car in a parking lot adjacent to the campus on two of the occasions.
The victim’s mother learned about her daughter’s relationship with Calica when a mother of one of her classmates told her. Before then, according to the probation report, the victim’s mother found a note in December 2016 in which her daughter wrote that she loved “the way you make love to me in the car,” but the victim originally said the letter was a make believe idea with her friends.
According to the probation report, the mother found correspondence between her daughter and Calica on a Google document, as well as two letters in her daughter’s backpack, one from Calica wishing her a happy birthday and a second that he gave her when he bought the victim a necklace, in which he acknowledged that “the age different sucks,” but it didn’t change his feelings for her and that he one day wanted to marry the victim.
The victim’s mother contacted police and the girl told authorities that she originally told Calica that she was 14, then 13 before acknowledging when they met in person that she was 12. She also said that she rushed him into meeting in person because her family was moving, and that she didn’t want him to go to jail and wanted him to get probation or counseling.
Calica called the victim’s mother on Jan. 26, and told her that he loved the girl, and that he was a virgin at the time he had sex with her and acknowledged that he was “doing things that may look wrong but for the right reasons,” and asked the mother not to contact authorities.
Authorities arrested Calica on Jan. 31 and he posted bond Feb. 1. He has been out of jail since.
The victim’s mother, who was present in the courtroom, did not speak, but had the family attorney, Svetlana Couture, read a letter into the record before Washington delivered the sentence.
In the letter, the mother called Calica a “rapist” who destroyed their family and urged the judge to impose a harsher sentence.
“I’m not sure where to begin in addressing my 12-year-old daughter’s rapist,” she said in the letter. “Your actions and assault has turned our lives upside down and caused a happy little girl’s life to be ripped out from under her feet and put her into a tailspin of depression, isolation and bitterness.
“Jeff took his time to romance Bekah (the victim’s middle name) with his promises and sweet talk,” the letter continued. “Just as stalkers do he found what she liked and used it to his advantage. He wrote her letters and changed her last name to his. He promised he would marry her.”
The mother pointed out that he took several three-hour drives from Oxnard to Solana Beach and back, planning and plotting his next move, “trying to figure out how to get the 12-year-old girl he just met to pull her panties down on his return visit.
“Don’t be fooled by what you see, Jeff is a predator, plain and simple,” she continued. “He took two more three-hour trips to Earl Warren Middle School where he raped Bekah both times in this car.”
The mother pointed out that after being released, Calica continued to be active on social media, posting videos about his excursions to nightclubs with friends and his new girlfriend, compared to her daughter’s life, which she said had tailspin downward since the incidents occurred.
“He continues to celebrate his life … while Bekah changed schools in the middle of the year, lost all of her friends, goes through days of continued counseling and has withdrawn from her family,” the mother wrote.
The mother said that probation, which was the agreed-upon deal between the District Attorney’s office and Calica’s attorney, Elliot Jung, was insufficient.
“Your honor, giving Jeff probation is not punishment, it’s like giving a child time out, no severe consequences,” she said.
According to the probation report, the probation department said that Calica’s lack of a prior criminal record and his acknowledgement of wrongdoing early during the proceedings, in addition to his relative unlikeliness to repeat his offenses made him a candidate for the lower bound of the sentencing recommendations.
Probation officials did express concern that Calica had accepted four calls from the victim between March and July of this year, during which Calica said he did not speak but answered the phone and listened to what she had to say. According to the report, the department questioned why Calica had not changed his cell phone number after his arrest.
Calica, as part of his probation, will register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, subject to polygraphs and not use Google Hangouts or any social media where minors are likely to be the primary users.
Jung asked for the judge to drop the polygraph requirement, but Washington agreed with the Deputy District Attorney Meredith Claterbos and the probation department that the polygraph would be a valuable tool for the department to use during Calica’s probation.
Washington warned that any violation would result in his prison sentence being reinstated.
“You will be in an adult prison for child molesting, and … that’s not the type of charge you want to be sent to prison for,” Washington said. “You are out of choices.”
Meanwhile, the victim’s mother has filed a lawsuit against the San Dieguito Union High School District and Calica that the school district’s lax internet and attendance policies led to the molestation.