Child molester sentenced to decades in prison

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who molested several young girls at a Plainfield Township apartment complex in 2017 is headed to prison for at least six decades.

At 63 years old, the 60- to 90-year sentence means Juan “John” Camargo won’t see the outside world again.

Camargo stared at the ground during his sentencing hearing in a Grand Rapids courtroom Wednesday.

“I wanted to ask the adults at school for help, but I was afraid they would not take me seriously, so every night, I lay in bed, feeling alone and scared,” a young victim said in court before the sentence was handed down.

“I really wish you get some mental help because you need it, because you can just stand there and you can look down and have no sympathy on your face. I don’t understand. I just don’t,” said the mother of one young victim, who also described how Camargo gained the trust of her young daughter.

24 Hour News 8 is not identifying any of the victims or family members who spoke during the hearing.

Camargo pleaded guilty in January to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of second-degree CSC and producing child pornography.

Kent County Sheriff’s Department investigators in 2018 called the case “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

“This involves someone who approaches your child at random and develops into abuse. It has everyone a little shaken,” Sgt. Joel Roon said at the time.

Camargo lived at Autumn Ridge Apartments off Mayfield Avenue NE near Plainfield Avenue in Plainfield Township between March 2017 and December 2017, during which time he would hang around the apartment complex’s playground. The sheriff’s office’s investigation began in November of 2017 when a mother reported her daughter asked to not see Camargo anymore.

Detectives said Camargo was bold in how he approached the girls, prompting concerns that there may be other victims. The investigation led to several others.

“Your actions are monstrous,” Kent County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Rossi said before imposing sentence. “There’s no other way to describe them. And they do prove that you can’t be trusted as a member of free society anymore.”

Camargo is a repeat offender with a criminal record dating back to 1972 that includes charges of arson and burglary.

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