From The United States District Court For The District Of
Puerto Rico [Hon. Aida M. Delgado-Colón, U.S. District
Alexander Vos, Federal Public Defender, Vivianne M. Marrero,
Assistant Federal Public Defender, and Liza L.
Rosado-Rodriguez, Research and Writing Specialist, on brief
Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney,
Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States
Attorney, and Julia M. Meconiates, Assistant United States
Attorney, on brief for appellee.
Lynch, Circuit Judge, Souter, [*] Associate Justice, and Kayatta,
jury trial, Nelson Santiago-Colon, a pastor, was convicted of
three counts of transporting a minor with intent to engage in
criminal sexual activity. 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a). On
appeal, he challenges his within-guidelines sentence of forty
years' imprisonment. He argues that his sentence is
procedurally unreasonable because it allegedly was based on
unreliable information in his presentence report (PSR) and
because the district court did not adequately consider his
argument that the relevant sex offense guidelines are not
supported by empirical evidence. See U.S.S.G. §
2G1.3. He also argues that his sentence is substantively
unreasonable, as it is greater than necessary to achieve
deterrence, and does not take into account his ability to
rehabilitate. We affirm.
recount only those facts necessary to understand the issues
on appeal. Santiago-Colon was the pastor of a Pentecostal
church in Puerto Rico. Between 2004 and 2011, Santiago-Colon
sexually abused at least five young boys between the ages of
twelve and sixteen, including over twenty incidents with one
instances of abuse followed a pattern. Santiago-Colon met the
victims and their families through the church. He would
obtain the parents' permission to drive the victims to
his house and have them spend the night, under the guise of
innocent activities such as his mentoring of them or their
washing of the church van. The visits usually started with
the victims eating meals with Santiago-Colon's family,
watching television, and sometimes playing with
Santiago-Colon's young son. Usually, Santiago-Colon then
took the victims to his bedroom, where they would sit on his
bed (the only seating option) to watch television. Afterward,
Santiago-Colon would send his then-wife and child out of the
room if they were present (he and his then-wife had separate
bedrooms). He would then sexually abuse the victims, whether
they were asleep or awake.
victims were forced to spend the night with Santiago-Colon,
usually sleeping in the same bed as Santiago-Colon, before he
drove the victims home the next day. Santiago-Colon also at
times sexually abused the victims in other locations,
including in his private car.
was able to continue his predations because he instructed the
victims not to tell anyone about the sexual abuse. The
victims did not tell their families about the abuse until
years later; several of them explained that they were afraid
of Santiago-Colon, or thought no one would believe that
Santiago-Colon had abused them because he was a pastor.
Santiago-Colon's former wife, who divorced him in June
2013, testified at trial that when she asked him why young
boys were sleeping in his bedroom, he would respond that he
was giving them "words of advice."
Santiago-Colon's former wife said she believed him
because he was a pastor. Four of the victims, including one
who was not listed in the indictment, testified at trial.
bypass a description of the overwhelming evidence of guilt at
trial to get to the sentencing issues. The PSR calculated a
base offense level of twenty-eight for each of the three
counts of conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a).
See U.S.S.G. § 2G1.3(a). It applied three
two-level enhancements: one because each minor was in the
custody, care, or supervisory control of the defendant,
id. § 2G1.3(b)(1)(B); one because the defendant
unduly influenced a minor to engage in prohibited sexual
conduct, id. § 2G1.3(b)(2)(B); and one because
the offense involved the commission of a sex act or sexual
contact, id. § 2G1.3(b)(4)(A).
calculated that each count had an adjusted total offense
level of thirty-four, and added three additional levels
because there were multiple counts, for a combined adjusted
offense level of thirty-seven. The PSR also added a
five-level enhancement because the defendant engaged in a
pattern of activity involving prohibited sexual conduct, for
a total offense level of forty-two. Id. §
4B1.5(b)(1). Santiago-Colon's criminal history category
was I. The PSR determined Santiago-Colon's guideline
imprisonment range to be 360 months to life.
sentencing hearing, Santiago-Colon requested that the court
impose the statutory minimum sentence of ten years'
imprisonment. The government did not provide a specific
sentencing recommendation, but argued ...