WNYT.com

Judge sets bail for imprisoned child molester

Posted at: 02/11/2013 5:24 PM
Updated at: 02/11/2013 5:33 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

BALLSTON SPA - Michael Santiago preyed on little girls. They were just six and seven-years-old when he began having sex with them.

The 43-year-old Santiago was convicted late last year of sexually abusing the girls at the Malta trailer home he lived in from 2001 to 2008.

The girls testified at Santiago's trial. It didn't take long for a conviction.

The jury found Santiago guilty after less than three hours of deliberations. But the attorney for his appeal says the court made a mistake by placing the burden of proof on him and not the prosecution. Santiago was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

So attorney Trey Smith is appealing Santiago's conviction. And while he prepares the appeal, he asked the judge to set bail. Supreme Court Judge Richard Aulisi of Fulton County, complied. Aulisi ruled that Santiago can get out if he can come up with 150-thousand dollars.

"If he gets out on bail and my daughters go to the mall, he could be there. He could be downtown. He could be at the grocery store. You never know where he's going to be," said the mother of the victims, whom NewsChannel 13 is not identifying in order to protect the identity of her children.

She worries that Santiago, who managed to post bail during the trial, will be able to do it again. And here's the kicker: The law requires perpetrators to register as sex offenders only at the end of their sentence. So if Santiago makes bail, he won't have to register.

"He can walk out and nobody knows. He can just walk free like he's you and me. And he's been convicted and it's not fair," she said.

Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy says Judge Aulisi ignored Chief Judge Lippman's recommendation last week that judges need to consider public safety, and not just flight risk, when setting or denying bail.

"What better case than a violent predatory child sex offender for the safety of the community when you're talking about public safety and bail?" asked Murphy.

Santiago had not posted bail as of Monday evening, but if he does, he's expected to return to Porter Corners.