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Babysitter sentenced to 8 years

• Amy Sigala was found guilty of sexually assaulting an 11-month-old.

Posted: May 6, 2008 2:13 a.m.
Updated: July 7, 2008 5:01 a.m.
A 21-year-old woman was sentenced to eight years in state prison on Monday morning, less than two months after she was found guilty of sexually assaulting an 11-month-old girl she was baby-sitting in a Canyon Country home.

San Fernando Superior Court judge Harvey Giss sentenced Amy Sigala to the maximum sentence allowable under state law. In March, a jury found Sigala guilty of two of three charges brought against her in connection with the Aug. 15, 2006, assault. Sigala faced a sentence between three and eight years.

Sigala's attorney, Robert Kasenow, plans to appeal the sentencing, alleging that his client was wrongfully accused and received an unfair trial because the judge was biased.

Attorneys on both sides presented arguments as to whether or not Sigala should be subject to the maximum eight-year sentence.

Deputy District Attorney William Chung asked the judge to sentence Sigala to the maximum eight-year sentence. The molested girl's parents also spoke at the hearing, and supported Chung's request for a maximum sentence.

However, Kasenow filed a motion urging the judge to sentence his client to the minimum three years and probation. He also said that an eight-year sentence was a detriment to Sigala's 3-year-old son.

"We filed an extensive motion to win a new trial or to request a reduced sentence and probation," Kasenow said. "The judge denied the motion. He pretty much just gave the maximum sentence allowed under the law."

Immediately after the hearing, Kasenow filed his notice of appeal on behalf of Sigala.

Sigala was found guilty on two counts in March, including a sexual abuse count of physical penetration of a child and a physical abuse count of inflicting injury on a child. A third count of bodily injury was dismissed by the jury.

On that day in August 2006, Sigala called the baby's mother, Jenni Soltero, 25, to report that the girl was bleeding from the genitals.

Soltero returned home and took her child to the hospital to receive stitches for her injuries. When asked what happened to the baby, Sigala reportedly blamed the incident on the girl's father, Paul Soltero.

Officials from the Department of Children and Family Services took the baby and another child into their custody. One child was taken to a home in Palmdale, while the other was taken to a home in Cerritos.

Both children were later returned to their parents when an investigation revealed that neither of the parents sexually assaulted the baby girl, and no charges were filed against the Solteros.

Sigala, who was a neighbor to the Soltero family, plans to appeal the eight-year sentence.

"The judge made up his mind before the case even started," said Haike Avagyan, who is Sigala's boyfriend. "The court ruled in an unfair matter in this matter, and that's why we are appealing.

"She watched a lot of kids, but the judge did not let any other families testify on her behalf. He did not allow any of that evidence to come in."

Avagyan also said that Sigala, despite the guilty verdict, was wrongfully accused, had a positive track record as a babysitter and was not a threat to society.

Sigala will remain in custody during the appeal. She is being held at the Century Detention Facility in Lynwood.

The next hearing is scheduled for June 13, when the court will determine whether Sigala owes restitution.


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