A Niagara Falls High School student who pleaded guilty to a sexual misconduct charge will not know his final sentence in the case for another year.
In the meantime, City Court Judge Angelo Morinello said he’s going to keep a close watch on Nicholas D’Angelo.
“We have all struggled with what is (an appropriate sentence) in this case,” Morinello said during Thursday morning’s sentencing hearing. “But the court has struggled to balance (what is fair).”
D’Angelo, who pleaded guilty in January to a single misdemeanor count of sexual misconduct, was facing a possible sentence of one year in jail or six years probation. Morinello, though, chose a third option.
“The recommendation (from the Niagara County Probation Department) is probation,” Morinello said. “However, the court would like the ability to monitor Mr. D’Angelo before final sentencing is imposed. So I am sentencing you to one year interim probation. That is appropriate.”
The judge imposed conditions on D’Angelo including that he continue to undergo treatment from a youth counselor, comply with an order of protection that bars him from contact with his victim, submit to random drug and alcohol testing and submit to probation officer searches of his room at his parent’s home among other restrictions.
“This is not a final sentencing, this is a sentence to impose conditions on you,” Morinello said. “Do you understand (if you violate the conditions) you get could get up to one year in the Niagara County Jail?”
“Yes sir,” D’Angelo replied.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Zucco agreed that a lot of time was spent on the case and “what (the victim) says happened to her.”
Zucco said the victim’s parents wanted Morinello to “keep in mind the conduct and what that says about the character of the defendant before you.”
D’Angelo was 17 and a junior at the high school when he was originally charged with first-degree rape and first-degree criminal sex act. He was accused of having sex with a then 14-year-old classmate in a stairwell at Niagara Falls High School while classes were in session on Oct. 7.
While D’Angelo’s defense attorney Paul Cambria said he did not “agree with all the statements made by the complaining witness” in a pre-sentence investigation, he did support Morinello’s interim sentence.
“I’m in favor (of the sentence),” Cambria said. “This is a young man who is a really good kid. If it wasn’t for the age situation, this would be a very different case.”
D’Angelo’s defense team has suggested the students met in the stairwell “by mutual consent” and have said whatever might have happened was consensual. Prosecutors countered the victim was “not of an age where she could give consent.”
“I think the judge thought long and hard about (the sentence),” Zucco said. “I have no problems with it. I support (the sentence).”
D’Angelo’s plea will not require him to register as a sex offender.