The new plea agreement with an ex-Allegheny College administrator convicted of charges for molesting an 11-year-old boy was compromise, according Francis Schultz, Crawford County's district attorney.
Last fall, Luiz Heleno Pereira was convicted in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas on two of four counts for sexually groping an 11-year-old boy at a North Main Street home in Meadville on Oct. 3, 2017.
Pereira, 55, of Buffalo, N.Y., was Allegheny College’s associate director of admissions when Meadville Police Department arrested him Jan. 24, 2018. Pereira was Allegheny’s associate director of admissions from July 2017 until Jan. 24, 2018, when he was fired by the college following his arrest.
Pereira was sentenced in December to a total of 12 months of probation and was required to register as a sexual offender.
Pereira petitioned the court for a new trial on the two charges upon which he was convicted — a felony count of unlawful contact with a minor sexual offenses and a first-degree misdemeanor count of corruption of minors for sexually touching the boy through the child’s clothes.
Pereira's petition for a new trial claimed his previous defense attorney failed to call any of eight character witnesses to testify on Pereira’s behalf and failed to call a witness to refute the prosecution’s claims Pereira was intoxicated the night of the incident.
On Tuesday, Pereira agreed to forego his request for a new trial and pleaded guilty to only the lesser charge of corruption of minors — thus dropping his required sex offender registration for the unlawful contact with a minor sexual offenses count.
"We take all the factors into consideration," Schultz said Wednesday when asked why a plea agreement was reached on only the lesser charge of corruption of minors.
"Based on our experience, we believe the (new trial) petition had merit and he would have been given a new trial," Schultz said. "I'm not minimizing what he did, but if we have another trial, we could lose and the family would have to deal with that."
The child's family was consulted prior to making the new plea agreement with Pereira and was onboard with it, Schultz said.
"In this case, he (Pereira) only received a sentence of 12 months probation. It didn't make sense to retry the case and make the young boy have to testify again," Schultz said. "The family would have to deal with all of it (again) for 12 months of probation."
Also, there was no reason to expect a sentence of more than 12 months of probation — even if Pereira was retried and convicted, according to Schultz.
"In my 23 years of experience, (if) you get a new trial (and are convicted again), they're not going to punish you and give you something worse," Schultz said.
With Pereira a resident of New York state, Pereira wasn't required to maintain registration as a sex offender in Pennsylvania, but he had to do so in New York following his conviction here last year, Schultz said.
Documentation from New York provided by Schultz showed Pereira registered as a Level 1 registered sex offender in New York with a registration expiration of March 7, 2039.
Level 1 is considered a low risk of being a repeat offender, according to the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services. While sex offender registration is required under New York law, New York only publishes Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders in an online directory with public access.
"Therefore his registration (in New York) was not made public, so he was not on any public list of sex offenders," Schultz said.
Pereira remains free on $15,000 bond pending his sentencing before Vardaro Oct. 22.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.