Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert Otero announced Friday that the two felony charges had been filed against Sanchez, who is accused of hitting his stepson with a belt on June 6.
However, Sanchez’s attorney said that the charges are overblown.
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“My initial reaction is this is very unfortunate because it is clear at this point that Mr. Sanchez is being treated very differently than a similar case with someone who is not in the public eye,” said Ryan Childers, Sanchez’s lawyer. “The fact that he’s facing two felony charges, both with maximum of six years in prison is absurd in light of the way we usually see cases like this handled.”
When someone’s a public figure it’s easy to make an example out of them, Childers said. The video has also created a large public outcry that likely influenced what charges were filed.
The courts are the backstop, preventing things from being overcharged, he said.
“I think that given Mr. Sanchez’s lack of any kind of prior record and his outstanding record of public service, he is the perfect candidate for the court to step in and say felony charges are not appropriate for someone of Mr. Sanchez’s background and in a case such as this.”
However, it all depends on what the judge decides, Childers said.
Sanchez will be arraigned July 10.
The video of Sanchez that sparked the investigation by the Imperial County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices went viral soon after it was posted to YouTube. Sanchez was arrested June 8 and resigned his position on the IID board June 9.
Members of Sanchez’s family, like the stepson’s maternal grandfather, have put their support behind Sanchez, trying to explain the situation in the national media.
“He said, ‘I was saying real mean things,’” Terry Grammar said on the Today Show, explaining what his grandson told him. “The reason I know that is because I’ve seen that. I’ve coached him in football. I’ve seen that behavior.
“… I would say Anthony had excessive spanking. He spanked him a little too much, but Anthony, again, is in a very difficult situation,” he added. “He’s trying to be a stepfather for a child that has some behavioral issues.”
Others, though, were angry after the video came out, some posting signs on his home and others signing petitions calling for Sanchez to be recalled from his position on the IID board.
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors has decided not to appoint someone to fill Sanchez’s position, instead allowing it to come up to vote. Officials at the IID say they want to have a vote in November during the regular election.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.