Pacheco Man Acquitted of One Charge, Convicted of Another in “Sleep-Sex” Molestation Case

July 3, 2014 9:07 am · 43 comments

A Pacheco man who claims to have suffered from a condition called parasomnia when he molested his 9-year-old niece during a sleepover in April 2012 was acquitted in a Martinez courtroom today of sexual penetration of a child but found guilty of lewd and lascivious acts.

The Contra Costa County Superior Court jury reached a verdict this afternoon after initially deadlocking on the first charge against 36-year-old Ralph Dell. For the charge of sexual penetration against a child, the jury was asked to decide whether the defendant was suffering from parasomnia, a disorder in which someone can take part in various activities while sleeping.

After deliberating for about a day, the jury decided it could not agree beyond a reasonable doubt that Dell was not suffering from parasomnia, said jury foreperson Clark Wallace, although he said he himself didn’t find the “sleep-sex” argument convincing.

The jury wasn’t asked to decide whether the act was intentional in order to find him guilty on the count of lewd and lascivious acts on a child, for which they convicted him, Wallace said.

Ernest Castillo, Dell’s attorney, told the jury at trial that what his client did to the 9-year-old victim on April 12, 2012 was never in question. However, he argued that Dell was sleeping when he inappropriately touched the girl and awoke startled and “horrified” at what he was doing.

The victim, who testified at trial, was at Dell’s home for a sleepover with his daughter when the incident occurred.

The girls were lying on blankets watching TV when the defendant rubbed his daughter’s back to help her get to sleep. He then asked the victim if she wanted a backrub and began rubbing her back even after she said no, according to Deputy District Attorney Chad Mahalich.

The defense said that Dell was asleep and experiencing an episode of parasomnia when he then began rubbing the girl’s stomach and put his hand inside her underwear, digitally penetrating her.

After the one-time incident, Dell didn’t call police or the victim’s parents, according to attorneys for both sides. The girl told her parents what had happened the following day.

Castillo told the jury that the incident was not the first time Dell had suffered from an episode of parasomnia. During the trial, Dell’s ex-wife testified that he had engaged in sex-related conduct on multiple occasions while in a state that was “not fully awake and not fully asleep.”

The attorney said that she also testified that the defendant was intoxicated or high on drugs during the past incidents, but never mentioned drugs or alcohol when interviewed by police.

Though the jury found Dell guilty of the second count against him, Castillo said the verdict “reflects an acknowledgment that my client did suffer from an episode of parasomnia during this incident.”

Mahalich said that while he does not dispute that parasomnia is a legitimate medical condition, the evidence doesn’t show that the defendant was suffering from it when he molested the victim.

The defendant also lied to police when he told them he’d experienced previous sex-related episodes of parasomnia with a former girlfriend – which the woman testified never happened, according to Mahalich.

Dell is set to return to court for sentencing on Sept. 5. In custody since his arrest two years ago, he faces a maximum prison term of six years, attorneys said.

Michelle July 3, 2014 at 12:16 AM

This is absolutely Horrible! There needs to be a cure for this if something like this really exists! Death Penalty!

Callin BS July 3, 2014 at 12:25 AM

All these excuses about being crazy or retarded needs to end. If that’s what they wanna use to justify what they did then the system should just kill them. It’s not like a crazy person is doing anything good for the community that we would be missing out on. It’s time the United States system puts an end to being so friggen lax about rules!

Me July 3, 2014 at 12:34 AM

Throw the book at him! As a child of molestation and a victim of rape I can without a shadow of a doubt tell you that this man has forever changed this girls life. Mine was reoccurring so I acknowledge that the damage to me was more significant but the truth of the matter is that she will be scarred for life. There will forever be an emotional attachment to this incident that will be filled with guilt and shame and it will affect, if even in a small way, her future relations with men when she starts having relationships. It may very well affect how she is able to handle physical interaction. I know it did with me. What I am saying is how can such a short sentence be considered just when such damage has been done to a child? If it was a dog that had scarred her for life it would be put down… Just a thought

Let's Have a Party to Celebrate Ralph's Acquittal July 3, 2014 at 3:45 AM

Bring Your Own Chainsaws and Rope…….

Jeffrey Harris July 3, 2014 at 4:36 AM

This jury should be ashamed of them selves who’s going to ask for permission to rub your back and be asleep. this shows he knows right from wrong and is a sex preditor.

Sleepy July 3, 2014 at 5:25 AM

Sure, it could happen. Me and the Mrs. have sometimes had drowsy intimate encounters drifting in and out of sleep. But we’re MARRIED. We’re ADULTS. Neither of us is nine years old.

“Even after she said no”? I believe this is statutory rape. Non consensual and forcible. All of the above. I’ve known a few sleep walkers. Never any sleep rapists, though.

Blink July 3, 2014 at 5:54 AM

There are 2 girls affected….his daughter too ….her view of men will always be affected by this…..this Twinkie defense is a sham …shame on the attorney who defends someone this way.
There is just so much wrong with all of this.

Silva July 3, 2014 at 7:54 AM

#1, That could cure it.

ConPro July 3, 2014 at 8:27 AM

The jury seriously believed that ridiculous lie of a defense?That is a travesty. I need to find out who they are so I can sell them this bridge I have in Brooklyn.

Ricardoh July 3, 2014 at 8:29 AM

Retarded jury. When in the service I saw a guy pee in his wall locker and another time someone saw him pee off of the barracks second floor stair case in his sleep but even he would not have had sex with a nine year old.

Chernobyl July 3, 2014 at 8:33 AM

No officer I don’t remember robbing that bank, must have been parasomnia. Our judicial system is such a crock, I guess when the entire thing starts out with putting your hand on a book of fiction and promising you won’t lie because god might be upset, you have a problem. I hope his cellmate has parasomnia and does a little accidental penetration on him.

Connie Dobbs July 3, 2014 at 8:38 AM

#3 Amen, sister. I fixed it so my abuser got 10 years in prison, and within six months of his release he re-offended and went back in. He’s a blue dot in Granite Bay, now. Married, of course. She writes to me now and then to tell me how he is.

He first went to prison in SC, and got himself transferred to a facility 20 miles from me in time for my 18th birthday. His girlfriend the correctional officer called me slap on the day. After I moved out here he was transferred to Canon City and then to Dublin. I guess we’ll see if he moves again. He can die, now. I’d be cool with that.

Always Right July 3, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Another BS Twinkie “the glove doesn’t fit” defense.

Men have no business sleeping with any female other than their wife.

Have To Prevent Prison Overcrowding July 3, 2014 at 9:14 AM

So, way democrats have things rigged, in custody two years, after sentencing will do what … maybe a year, then out ?

Laurie July 3, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Oh please……… get ready people for everyone’s latest excuse. I murdered someone, I raped your child, I raped your 85 year old grandma but I have parasomnia so it’s ok. This is garbage, six years max already served two and this poor child will live in a prison of her own for the rest of her life. I am so sad for this precious child and what she had to go through and will continue to go through. The sicko deserves life in prison.

Silva July 3, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Connie Dobbs, I sure hope you’ve had some measure of relief if not pleasure that you had a part in putting him where he belongs. If the turdface dies there, so much the better. Kudos to you, it’s probably not all champagne and caviar for him in there even with the idiot girlfriend.

Now that they know more about PTSD hopefully victims of abuse can have better luck moving on now. It’d be good if it didn’t have to haunt their memories every day of the rest of their lives.

PHILTHYphresh July 3, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Embrace the diversity of our non section 8 residents. Yay!!

RealityCheck July 3, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Sleep rape????
That moronic jury needs a REALITY CHECK! This animal should be chained up for a long, long time.

Smart,Goodlooking&Debonaire July 3, 2014 at 12:46 PM

obama voter no doubt, never responsible for his actions.

Shiloh July 3, 2014 at 1:03 PM

If he’s known for several years that he had this issue, should he be having sleepovers and laying down next to nine year old girls?? I say, even if it IS true, he should be found guilty because he knew it could happen. (By the way, I don’t believe it for a second)

Always Right July 3, 2014 at 1:16 PM

@13 – it is easy to understand why the vast majority of those criminals who do vote – vote democrat.

Which party opposes three strikes laws, cuts funding for prisons and jails, and enacts policies which cut police service? Democrats.

You all should be ashamed July 3, 2014 at 1:25 PM

You all should be ashamed of yourselves. So quick to judge this is a real condition that effects people. A MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS not a psychiatric diagnosis. You don’t know him or his family. You don’t know how this has effected him. You don’t know anything about the situation except this 1 article you have read. Yes it is a terrible thing that everyone wishes would not have happened but he is not a pedophile and he does not deserve death or any of the other things you morons suggest. Who are you to judge anyone? Imagine if your loved one had this condition and ended up in this terrible situation. Put yourself in his and his family’s shoes. And do some research before you pass judgement.

RealityCheck July 3, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Defending a child rapist?
You can go now. Long walk, short bridge please.

You all should be ashamed July 3, 2014 at 1:49 PM

He’s not a child rapist. He is a person with a medical condition he has no control over. No different then a diabetic getting in the car their blood sugar dropping, passing out and running over someone walking or getting into a fatal accident.

Had he known this could happen it never would have happened and it never will happen again. He doesn’t desire to hurt children or any one else. Its unfortunate for all parries involved and no one feels good about it.

Your ignorance is astonishing.

Always Right July 3, 2014 at 2:41 PM

@24 – What is a grown man doing in bed sleeping with his 9 year old niece during a “sleepover”? Your ignorance and gullibility is astonishing.

This 36 year old man should be in prison for a long time as an example to others. Even if his fondling of a child was unintentional ( I doubt it) he should still be locked up for the harm he did and his gross stupidity and bad judgement.

Jason L. July 3, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Why is he giving backrubs to another child even after she said “no”? He knew he had “parasomnia” – he should have set up a bear trap outside his bedroom door so that if he were to have one of his “episodes”, i’m sure the bear trap would have woke him up.

The child has been scarred for life. Don’t forget who the real victim is here.

Cowellian July 3, 2014 at 4:20 PM

He had sex with a child, which makes him a child rapist.
Your willingness to excuse evil is astonishing.

Times report July 3, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Child rape?? To clarify a few facts there was no rape! It was touching in an inappropriate area that lasted a duration of possibly 1-2 min. In which after the man awoke horrified and immediately remove himself from the situation. All in which is corroborated by the victim. Sounds like a horrible accident.

Atticus Thraxx July 3, 2014 at 4:39 PM

“Your ignorance is astonishing.” Unusually bold statement defending the undefendable. Maybe you bought his line of BS, but I ain’t. Hope he dies of Ebola of the penis.
And now that we know about 36 y/o Ralph Dell, we can all keep an eye on Ralph Dell. Ralph Dell has proven he can’t he trusted around the least of us, so now Ralph Dell and Ralph Dell’s family have to deal with the embarrassment. So maybe you should be mad at Ralph Dell instead of a bunch of people disgusted by Ralph Dell’s actions.
Just wanted to make sure we all remember Ralph Dell’s name. After all Ralph Dell was found guilty of lewd and lascivious acts on a 9 year old child. Ralph Dell is facing six years. I hope Ralph Dell serves every minute. And then dies of Ebola of the penis.

Cowellian July 3, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Horrible accident?
Yeah, that excuse is sure to serve him well in prison.

Michelle July 3, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Atticus, you know just as well as I that you are really blowing hot air now. Have some popcorn and watch a good movie, then get some rest.

Atticus Thraxx July 3, 2014 at 7:20 PM

You can hate the hater, but don’t hate the hate.

Anon July 3, 2014 at 8:49 PM

When Ralph nods off on BART and grabs my junk, Ralph is going to get skull fu#%ed by 5″ of high carbon stainless steel.

#24 you are all talk until it’s in your backyard and you know it. Or you are a relative, which means you put your own before the neighbors children. That puts you in the category of “evil.”

To #24 July 3, 2014 at 10:26 PM

How do you know we don’t know him? I do know him, actually. And his family. He’s a REALLY nice guy and I’ve always liked him a lot. BUT . . I think this is crap. It’s wrong to lay down with a 9 year old girl. It’s wrong to rub her back after she says “no”. It’s wrong to even ask if you CAN rub her back. And for you to say that this was a case of inappropriate touching is appalling to me. You call putting his hand in her underwear and putting a finger inside of a 9 year old “inappropriate touching”?? That is penetration and it’s way beyond “inappropriate”.

Connie Dobbs July 3, 2014 at 11:12 PM

#24 Then he’s safest in an institutional setting, don’t you think?

Dr. Jellyfinger® July 4, 2014 at 1:05 AM

Sleep Sex? Reminds me of my ex. I’d have a to slip a few downers in her wine coolers just to get any action at all. It wasn’t very lively, but you know how it is when the USS John Thomas needs to slide into port…… we take it slow in the “no wake” zone.

Silva July 4, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Sadly, many pedophiles are loving family members, caring and upstanding members of the community, ordinary normal looking people. Proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing.

know the facts July 4, 2014 at 1:05 PM

The court proceedings are public record and I suggest you know what you are talking about before you open your mouth.

If any one of you are parents or family members of a child I am sure you have rubbed their back to help get them to sleep.

And this penetration you speak of is not what you think. You need to look up the legal definition of the word and then maybe you might understand that the term includes a wide variety of touching and not necessarily the common idea of penetration.

You all seem to forget that he was convicted and will be punished for this even though it was caused by a medical condition. You all sit on your high horse and act as though he is getting away with this.

Again I suggest you get the facts before you pass judgement and sit behind your computers with balls of steel typing away.

Atticus Thraxx July 4, 2014 at 5:34 PM

#38 yeah we’re a hoot up here on Mt.Pious, after all self-righteous indignation does feel good. But you….you dare to defend this freak and pretend we’re the blind ones? As far as I’m concerned your as foul a human as he is. So…bite me.

Cowellian July 4, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Facts? You want facts?
OK, here are some facts:

He is a convicted child molester.

He is going to prison.

And you are trying to excuse evil.

Connie Dobbs July 4, 2014 at 8:18 PM

#38 How does the little girl feel about what was done to her against her will?

Connie Dobbs July 4, 2014 at 8:47 PM

I mean, there’s no harm done, right? It’s not like children are conditioned to do as adults tell them. He didn’t just demonstrate to her that other people could do to her whatever they felt like whether she liked it or not and if she complained there were always people like you around to tell her to shut up and take it because his medical problem matters more than her feelings, right? That won’t affect her every day of her life from here on out or anything.

Shiloh July 5, 2014 at 8:13 AM

@#38: this was his niece, not his own child and she told him “No” when he offered the back rub. And I DO understand what “digital penetration” is and I do think it would be horrifying (and painful) for a 9 year old. Do the girl’s parents feel the same way you do about this???

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