MARTINEZ -- The female relative whom Raul Ochoa controlled as a sex slave for 15 years was not in court Tuesday morning to see her tormentor formally sentenced to 22 years in prison for his crimes. But her voice was heard loud and clear.

The victim, whom this paper is not naming because she is a victim of sexual abuse, wrote a letter that was read aloud in Judge Terri Mockler's courtroom by Shannon Mahoney of Contra Costa County's Victim Assistance Program.

As Mahoney read the missive that was equal parts rage and defiance, Ochoa peered through the bars of a courtroom holding cell and listened to a translator.

"I never imagined being so close to freedom for so long," the letter read. "I was hoping for someone to help me. I still remember the fear and anguish of all the things I went through."

Ochoa's sentence was part of a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to one count of forced lewd acts on a child and two counts of forcible rape. In addition, he was ordered to pay at least $4,100 in restitution to the victim, waive his right to an appeal and register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He must serve 85 percent of his sentence (nearly 19 years) before being considered for parole.

"I'm not sure that any number is going to satisfy the harm he did to this person," said prosecuting deputy district attorney Ryan Wagner. "But you also have to consider, how can we balance holding him accountable and prevent her from having to come into a public courtroom and talk about this and be in front of the person who did these things to her?"


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Sung Ae Choi, Ochoa's public defender, declined to comment.

The victim was abused from 1998 to 2012, Wagner said. She was 27 when, on Aug. 16, 2012, she escaped Ochoa's North Richmond house and, three days later, showed up at the Richmond Police Department describing herself as a runaway.

The victim subsequently filed a restraining order petition against Ochoa, accusing him of calling her from jail and sending his mother to persuade her to refuse to cooperate with authorities.

"I remember he would look at me with fearless eyes, with no compassion at all," the victim's letter continued. "I know he remembers telling me, 'I don't like to see you cry.' He should have taken care of me. He didn't. This is for (him) to know: I have friends who look out for me like you never did. I don't need you. Now I am free."

"If you heard the words that she was speaking," Wagner said, "she's extremely strong and courageous for having gone through this."

Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.