A former Temecula dentist who sexually assaulted two girls he was coaching in acrobatics was sentenced today to two years in prison—a term his victims said was not long enough to ensure he wouldn't be able to prey on other children.
Dr. David Martinus Reiakvam, 44, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of lewd acts on a child just as jury selection began for his trial. He could have faced more than 50 years behind bars had he been convicted of the 15 felonies with which he was originally charged.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Ronald Taylor repeatedly reminded courtroom observers today that the sentence was the result of a "negotiated plea" and he would not override it.
In exchange for Reiakvam's accepting responsibility for the two felonies, the District Attorney's Office dropped 11 counts of committing lewd acts on a child under 15 years old, as well as two counts of oral copulation of a child under 18 against him.
"You took impressionable children's dreams and used them instead for your sick, perverted pleasure," said Amy Angome, who was sexually molested by the defendant beginning when she was 13 year old.
"It's not the predator in the bushes you need to worry about. It's those in positions of power and authority, like David, who harm precious and vulnerable children."
The second victim, Shenea Booth, read a statement to the court recalling how Reiakvam repeatedly molested her, allegedly raping her at 13 as his then-wife Sherry and toddler son slept in adjacent rooms.
"Do you remember my blood on your T-shirt?" Booth asked, looking directly at Reiakvam, who stared straight ahead.
"Do you remember abusing me in the shower, or in your dental office? Do you remember what you did to me in front of your son while he was strapped into a car seat?"
Angome and Booth told City News Service they were among dozens of children, primarily girls, coached in acrobatics at Reiakvam's Empire Acro Gym on Market Street in Riverside. It has since closed.
The women—Angome is now 27 and Booth 26—were invited to live with the Reiakvams to maintain an uninterrupted schedule of training and academics, they told City News Service. Booth, who went on to win two world championship titles in acrobatics, left after one year. Angome stayed until she was 19.
"I guess you could say it was like Stockholm syndrome," Angome said, referring to the psychological phenomenon in which hostages bond with their captors.
"David was very good at manipulation. The mental thing was more damaging than the physical abuse in a lot of ways."
Both victims said Reiakvam excelled at portraying himself as a family man and trustworthy member of the community, while all along looking for a new target. According to Angome, Reiakvam came under investigation after he allegedly tried to contact a 13-year-old girl on his son's Facebook page.
The women believe many more victims have not come forward.
"I hope they do," Angome said. "That means more charges can be filed, and he can get a long prison sentence."
Booth said Reiakvam's two-year prison term was not "anywhere long enough."
"David should not be in society," Booth said. "Someone of his violent caliber should be locked away. He's a danger to himself and others."
According to District Attorney's Office Public Information Officer John Hall, defense attorney Tera Harden broached the plea deal this week after the case had been assigned to Taylor's courtroom for trial, leading to negotiations and mutually acceptable terms.
"Several things were considered in the decision to accept the plea agreement," Hall said. "By agreeing to this, the victims would not have to testify during a trial and, with the felony conviction and lifetime registration as a sex offender, Mr. Reiakvam will likely no longer be able to practice dentistry."
Reiakvam, who began his dental practice in 1998, failed to renew his license earlier this year. The Dental Board of California had placed restrictions on his practice in January 2011, prohibiting him from accepting patients under 18 years old pending resolution of the criminal charges.
—Paul Young, City News Service