After a failure to communicate, a man with an unusual translation need was able to take a negotiated plea in a sexual assault case.
Marcos Jose-Jose, 53, pleaded guilty Friday, Sept. 6 to an amended charge of party to the crime of sexual battery.
He was originally charged with child molestation and trafficking a person for sexual servitude, with the latter charge being dismissed in the plea deal.
In August, the court attempted a hearing for Jose, who speaks the Mayan language of Q’anjob’al.
The language is spoken primarily in Guatemala and is one of more than 20 languages in that country.
The process required English-Spanish interpreter Guillermo Arenas to speak Spanish to the Q’anjob’al interpreter over the phone, who would translate it into the Mayan language for Jose.
“We were able to get an interpreter via Skype that spoke English and his Guatemala language and it went much better,” defense attorney Andy Maddox wrote in an email.
Arenas previously told The Times it is often difficult to find interpreters, particularly in a language such as Q’anjob’al, with experience or training in the legal environment that would prepare them to work in a courtroom.
Maddox said his client was charged “with not doing enough” to prevent a relationship between a young girl and an older male.
Jose was given a five-year custodial sentence that was “suspended upon deportation from the United States,” according to the sentencing papers.
This type of suspended sentence means the defendant will likely be immediately deported and would only serve the time if he returns to the United States.