JEFFERSON, Ohio (WOIO) - One of the men who was sexually assaulted as a teenager by a former Conneaut city councilman stood tall as he walked out of the Ashtabula County Courthouse on Wednesday, just moments after his predator was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The man’s mother and sister, both of whom spoke at the sentencing hearing for Phillip Garcia, agreed to an interview with 19 News.
“It’s been a hard time for my family and the [other] victims who kept silent for so long, because they thought nobody cared about them,” said the mother, who’s name we’re withholding to help protect the identity of the victim.
In May, Garcia pleaded guilty to four counts of compelling prostitution and seven counts of sexual imposition for raping teenagers.
During Wednesday’s court hearing, Garcia’s attorney filed a motion to withdraw the guilty plea, citing anxiety and depression.
“Stand up, speak out,” said the sister of the aforementioned victim, as she offered words of encouragement to all victims of sexual assault. “Your words mean something.”
“You don’t have to cry alone,” the mother echoed. “Find someone. People will listen to you.”
Garcia’s attorney told 19 News he planned to file an appeal.