A former Springs resident was taken to county jail Thursday, April 4, after being arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court on a felony charge of sexually abusing a child late last year.
According to the East Hampton Town police, Juan Bacuilima, 56, who told the court through his attorney that he had just moved to Sag Harbor a week ago from his longtime residence in Springs, inappropriately touched a child. The child’s family was acquainted with Bacuilima. The identity and further information about the child are being withheld, due to age.
Assistant district attorney Rudy Migliore Jr. told Justice Lisa Rana that Bacuilima had confessed to police, telling them that he had placed his hand on the child’s crotch “for one or two minutes.” When he pulled his hand away, he asked the child if they had “liked it.” They said, ‘No,’” Migliore said.
Besides the felony charge, which Migliore said carries a top sentence of seven years in prison, Bacuilima is also facing a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child. Migliore asked that bail be set at $75,000.
Matthew D’Amato, the attorney from Legal Aid Society representing Bacuilima, questioned the validity of the alleged confession, saying that there was no indication that a Spanish language translator had signed off on it. Baciulima speaks no English. Bacuilima has lived in the East Hampton area for the past 20 years.
D’Amato asked for a lower bail amount, arguing that Bacuilima was not a flight risk. He said the defendant had turned himself into police voluntarily after they contacted him on Wednesday, April 3, and returned when he was allowed to leave headquarters to get lunch. He was placed under arrest that evening.
In a press release announcing the arrest, police said that they were “contacted by school officials in January 2019, when the child disclosed the abuse to a teacher after seeing an educational video on when to report touching to an adult.”
Justice Rana set bail at $50,000, and issued an order prohibiting Bacuilima from having any contact of any kind with the child.
If Bacuilima does not make bail, he will be returned to East Hampton April 9. If he is not indicted by a grand jury by then, he will be released.