Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Criminal Contact
It is a nightmarish scenario for a young sexual assault victim. Her attacker got off probation early and is now trying to contact her family. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- In 2007, Gary Sortevik was on probation for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl when he was busted in a sex offender sweep by the probation department.
Gary Sortevik: "Go away. Go away."
He was taken into custody after police in Palm Beach County found him parked in a shopping center lot with no pants on.
Sarah Harrington: "He was discovered with his clothes off, his bottoms off, with a towel covering his regions."
At the time of the sweep, officers found a doll in the trunk of his car.
The arrest brought back disturbing images for the family of his young victim.
Victim's Family Member: "Physical touching, and there was some penetration. She couldn't talk, she started to cry, she started to point to parts of her body. I was in total, absolute shock."
We're not identifying this family member so as not to identify Sortevik's victim.
In that case, he pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 16.
After a year in jail, he was supposed to spend ten on probation. But despite the probation violation, he got off a year early.
His victim and her family are furious.
Victim's Family Member: "I was very angry about that."
Adding insult to injury, when Sortevik went to court to get off probation early, the family was not notified.
Victim's Family Member: "We are a very strong family unit, and we would have sat there and talked to the judge and told him our case."
According to an e-mail from the Broward State Attorney's Office, it got a late notice of the hearing, which contributed to the failure to notify the victim's family. They apologized, saying, "We believed that there was little chance that the judge would grant early termination of probation, especially given the defendant's prior probation violations."
Victim's Family Member: "The judge released him anyway."
And with that freedom, the family says Sortevik started contacting them, something he had been forbidden to do while on probation.
They say he sent Valentine's Day cards and text messages.
He even sent a Facebook message to the victim's sister, asking to be allowed to "explain" his side in a "face-to-face" meeting. It ends, "You'll always be in my heart and in my thoughts."
Victim's Family Member: "It is scaring her to the extent that she knows what he's done. She knows what he is capable of. She knows that she doesn't want him near her or her other female friends."
Gary Sortevik: "Oh, I don't want anything on film, sorry."
7 News tracked down Sortevik, who refused to talk with us about his actions.
Gary Sortevik: "Can you turn that camera off please?"
Carmel Cafiero, Investigative Reporter: "Once again, his victim's family is hoping Florida courts will protect them. They've obtained a restraining order they hope will keep Gary Sortevik out of their lives for good."
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