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Originally published Friday, July 26, 2013 at 7:53 PM

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Man gets nearly 2 years for commercial sex abuse of minor

A Sumner man convicted earlier this month of commercial sex abuse of a minor — the first verdict of its kind in the county, and possibly the state — was sentenced Friday to 21 months in prison in King County Superior Court.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A King County judge called a defense attorney’s statements “ludicrous” when he argued Friday that his client was induced into sex by a 17-year-old working as a prostitute, a girl he claimed was a willing participant.

“Mr. (Gildardo) Zaldivar-Guillen is a 41-year-old man. The victim in this case, while nearing adulthood, is a child,” said Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts, noting the case against the Sumner landscaper and father of three was exactly the kind of case state legislators had in mind when they increased penalties in 2010 for pimps and men who pay for sex with underage girls.

“The argument that Mr. Zaldivar-Guillen should’ve somehow been dissuaded by this girl from pulling over and paying her for sex is ludicrous,” the judge said.

Roberts presided over Zaldivar-Guillen's trial earlier this month when a jury, after deliberating for 30 minutes, handed down the first verdict in the county — and possibly the state — for commercial sex abuse of a minor.

The crime became a Class B felony in June 2010, when a new state law with increased penalties went into effect. Before legislators created the new crime of commercial sex abuse of a minor, first-time offenders convicted of paid sex with a juvenile faced a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.

On Friday, Roberts sentenced Zaldivar-Guillen to 21 months in prison, the low end of the standard range.

Though he’d just been sentenced for picking up a 17-year-old and offering her $10 for sex, Zaldivar-Guillen asked the judge if it was possible to start serving his prison term after attending his goddaughter’s Aug. 10 quinceañera, a traditional Latin American celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday. The judge said she didn’t have the authority to do that.

Before Roberts delivered her sentence, defense attorney Alexander Chan requested an exceptional sentence below the standard range, asking for a suspended sentence that would have seen his client spend no time behind bars.

Noting that his client would have received a lesser punishment for exposing himself to an 11-year-old, Chan said the standard sentence of 21 to 27 months “doesn’t make any sense.” Chan also tried to argue that the girl, who has since turned 18, was “an experienced prostitute,” but Roberts interjected that there was no evidence presented at trial to substantiate that claim.

King County Deputy Prosecutor Jason Simmons called the defense arguments of inducement and willing participation “marginally offensive,” likening it to a rapist who claims a woman was asking to be sexually assaulted “because she was wearing a short skirt.”

“Mr. Zaldivar-Guillen helped perpetuate” the sexual exploitation of the victim, he said. “Young women are abused, young women are coerced and young women are pimped into doing things they don’t want to do.

“ ... Sadly, what Mr. Zaldivar-Guillen did” when he pulled over on Pacific Highway in SeaTac, picked the girl up and drove her to a dark parking lot last summer “is the exact same way this crime is committed every day in our community,” Simmons said.

In addition to serving his prison time, Zaldivar-Guillen was ordered to undergo a sexual-deviancy evaluation and register as a sex offender, as required by state law, for 15 years.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

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