People on hand Thursday in Erie County Court who were hoping he would get a lighter sentence included not only his family but the mother of the victim, who for months refused to believe Jenkins, her boyfriend and the father of her unborn son at the time, had committed the crime.
Only when the mother was confronted with DNA evidence to prove Jenkins had impregnated her daughter did she stop maintaining his innocence, Assistant District Attorney Marni Bogart said. But she still “stood by her man” by insisting her daughter was a willing participant in the sexual encounter, the prosecutor said.
Jenkins, 27, claims he has no recollection of the attack two years ago and that he must have blacked out from being “jacked up on Loritabs and alcohol,” Bogart said, quoting Jenkins.
“The girl went to her grandmother and godmother because she knew her mother wouldn’t be supportive. The grandmother and godmother took her to Women and Children’s Hospital and it was determined she was nine weeks pregnant. She suffered the trauma of an abortion, then medical complications,” Bogart said, adding that at one point during the attack Jenkins covered the girl’s head with a pillow.
Erie County Judge Kenneth F. Case settled on a sentence of 14 years, rather than the maximum of 17 years or minimum of 10 years. He said it was shocking to read some of the statements Jenkins had made to authorities.
“In your initial statement to police, you said ‘I never did her’ and, ‘Well, she’s fast for her age.’ I don’t know how to respond to that,” Case said.
Defense attorney Thomas J. Eoannou urged the judge to take into consideration that Jenkins has no prior arrests, that the behavior was an “aberrational event,” and that when he is eventually released from prison, he and the victim’s mother plan to reunite and raise their son, who is now 2 years old.
Eoannou also pointed out that Jenkins, who is learning disabled, has been a devoted single parent to his other son, an 8-year-old with autism.
Dressed in jeans and a checked shirt, the stocky Jenkins told the judge he was remorseful. “I apologized to the young lady in the case,” he said. “I’m remorseful. They say I’m not remorseful. I am remorseful.”
The victim, now 14, her mother and the toddler have moved to North Carolina, said Bogart, who repeatedly sought to diminish any weight a letter written to the judge by the mother seeking leniency might carry.
“I call her a mother, but I use the word loosely. The worth of that term applied to her is not worth the paper her letter is written on,” Bogart said.
The prosecutor added, “While the mother was pregnant with his baby, he turned to her daughter for sex. The mother finally accepted that he was the father when shown DNA results. She then started saying it was consensual. A child cannot consent to sex with an adult and he put a pillow over her head.”
Bogart said that Jenkins had already received his share of mercy when he was allowed to plead guilty last fall to a Class B felony of first-degree rape, rather than face a trial on two A-felony charges of predatory sexual assault. If he had been convicted of those felonies, he could have been sentenced to prison for life.
Eoannou said that Jenkins regularly drove to Rochester to work at a relative’s pawn shop to support his family and that he had lived with the girlfriend for about four years on Richlawn Avenue.
“Other than this obviously very serious incident, by all accounts, he was a good provider and father and had no involvement with the criminal justice system.” Eoannou said.
With 13 months already served and anticipated credit for trouble-free behavior in prison, the attorney estimated that Jenkins would be released from prison in 11 years.
“It is both of their desires to reunite once Cotrell is released,” Eoannou said of his client and girlfriend.
Case ordered that Jenkins be placed on supervised release for eight years after serving his sentence and that he have no contact with the victim through an order of protection that will remain in force through March 2035.