In Yates County Criminal Court Tuesday, Nov. 26, ROBERT O. CHRISTENSEN JR., 57, of Himrod, was sentenced to a maximum security prison for 12 years combined, on his convictions for child molestation.
For 1st degree criminal sex act (class B felony), Judge Jason L. Cook sentenced Christensen to 7 years in prison and 20 years of parole supervision as a registered sex offender; for 1st degree sexual abuse of a child (class D felony), he received a consecutive sentence of 5 years in prison and 10 years parole supervision. He was also adjudicated as a Level 3 sex offender in a risk assessment hearing on his earlier conviction for 25 counts of possession of child pornography (class E felony).
Christensen’s arrests came after three grand jury indictments over a year as police investigations revealed more and more crimes, the most serious involving sexually abusing three children under age 11. In a May 2018 indictment, Christensen was charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse (class D felony), two counts of attempting to disseminate indecent material to a minor (class E felony), and one count of endangering the welfare of a child (class A misdemeanor). In a July 2019 indictment, he was charged with 1st degree sexual act (class B violent felony), 3rd degree criminal sexual act (class E felony), forcible touching, and sexual misconduct (class A misdemeanors).
Following a June 3 competency hearing, Cook declared in Yates County Criminal Court Tuesday, June 11 that Christensen was competent to stand trial for the multiple sex crimes. Christensen later pled to the 25 counts of child pornography, and was sentenced to 1 year in jail on each, served concurrently, with the knowledge he would face far more serious sentencing on the other charges.
In October, he pled to the top counts of 1st degree sexual act and to 1st-degree sexual abuse in exchange for reduced sentences served consecutively. At trial, he would have faced up to 32 years in prison. Five stay away orders of protection were issued for the three child victims and their parents.
At Tuesday’s sentencing, a victim’s statement from the father of two of the children was read into the record by District Attorney Todd Casella, calling Christensen’s crimes “a betrayal,” calling him “a disgrace,” and denouncing him for “the damage done to two boys who looked up to you as a hero.” Asked by Cook if he had anything to say before sentence was passed, Christensen said only, “I wish this never happened.”
That statement drew Cook’s ire, as did Christensen’s statements to probation that attempted to shift blame to the victims and others. “No sentence the court can impose today is enough,” said Cook.
Christensen must also pay a $1,000 sex offender victim’s fee for each child, plus sex offender registry fee, mandatory state surcharges, and DNA databank registry fee on each conviction. In addition to registration as a sex offender, upon release from prison, Christensen may face civil commitment under the the Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SOMTA) as a “dangerous sex offender requiring confinement” who committed sex offenses, is suffering from mental abnormality that pre-disposes him to commit sex offenses, is unable to control his sexual behavior, and is a danger to society if not confined.
Other cases heard Nov. 26:
Travis Vermilye, 26, charged with 3rd degree rape (class E felony) accepted a plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence cap of 6 months in jail, 10 years probation, registration as a sex offender, mandatory surcharge, DNA fee, HIV testing at the victim’s request, an order of protection, and waiver of appeal. He faced up to 1 1/2 to 4 years in prison. His release on $5,000 bail was continued until sentencing Jan. 7.
Michael Langdon, 28, appeared for arraignment on charges of DWAI by drugs with a prior conviction within 10 years (class E felony), 7th degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of marijuana, and failure to keep right. After an early hour traffic stop in March, lab results allegedly showed he had cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other substances in his system. He pled not guilty, and his release on his own recognizance was continued until reappearance Feb. 4.
Michael Hoke, 35, appeared for arraignment on charges of 3rd degree burglary (class D felony) and petit larceny (class A misdemeanor)after he allegedly went behind the counter of a local fast food restaurant during business hours Sept. 6 in Penn Yan, opened the cash register, and stole $20. He pled not guilty, but with other charges in lower courts and Ontario County, and priors in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New York, he was placed under probation supervision in pre-trial release until reappearance Jan. 21.
MATTHEW S. CASCIANI, 31, charged with aggravated DWI with a .18% BAC or greater, DWI with a previous conviction within 10 years, DWI with a.08% BAC or greater (all as class E felonies), failure to keep right, and speeding, accepted a plea bargain for the first count alone in exchange for a reduced sentence. Faced with 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison, Casciani admitted he was arrested Sept. 8 by Penn Yan Police driving on Maple Avenue with blood alcohol content of .23%, and with a prior DWAI by drugs in Penn Yan in 2012. He was promised a sentence of 364 days in jail, a $2,300 fine, plus surcharge and DNA fee, and must attend the drunk driver victim impact panel, and submit to an ignition interlock device. He was remanded back to jail in lieu of $3,000 bail or $6,000 bond until sentencing Jan. 7
Christopher Ochsenhirt, 27, charged with 3rd degree criminal mischief (class E felony) and misdemeanor 2nd degree aggravated unlicensed operation, accepted a plea bargain for the top count and was sentenced to 1 year interim probation and restitution of $1,400 to the victim, along with an order of protection.
A 21-year-old on 5 years probation since 2017 as a youthful drug offender, admitted to violating probation after being terminated by the Yates County Drug Treatment Court for behavior. He was remanded to jail until sentencing Jan. 7.