A Fair Lawn man convicted of molesting his ex-girlfriend's 15-month-old daughter was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison by a Bergen County Superior Court judge.
John Katsigiannis, 30, will serve at least 85 percent of the 15-year sentence handed down Friday by Judge Donald Venezia before he is eligible for parole, Venezia's law clerk Leo Dugan said.
According to Fair Lawn police Lt. James Corcoran, who attended Friday's sentencing, Venezia said he couldn't even comment on the facts of the case because they were too horrific.
In November, Katsigiannis was found guilty of using his finger to molest his ex-girlfriend's daughter during a barbecue he hosted in 2007. Demetra Maurice, the prosecutor who tried the case, told jurors that Katsigiannis used such force that the 15-month-old girl suffered significant bleeding that required corrective surgery.
Corcoran, who worked the case in Fair Lawn with Detective Jeff Welsh, applauded Maurice for her prosecution efforts.
"She did a fantastic job," said Corcoran, who acknowledged that working the case affected him emotionally.
"It's something that I'll never forget," he said. "It changes your life."
About two to two-and-a-half hours into their initial questioning back in 2007, Corcoran said Katsigiannis admitted to inserting his middle finger into the child's vagina, somewhere between the first and second knuckle.
"He claimed it was an accident," Corcoran said. "We all knew it wasn't an accident."
The incident occurred when Katsigiannis took the child up into his bedroom to change her during the barbecue. He claimed she was injured when he attempted to change her diaper and inadvertently scratched her, but Corcoran said the story raised some serious red flags for him.
Katsigiannis said in his statement that he had closed and locked his bedroom door while changing the child and that he wouldn't permit a friend who knocked on the door to enter while he was changing her because the child was naked.
"That struck me as very odd," said Corcoran, noting that it's common for children so young to be changed out in the open. "For him to make that statement was key to us saying, 'Something's wrong with this story. This doesn't add up.'"
Katsigiannis was initially charged with endangering the welfare of a child, but following further investigation, was indicted on aggravated sexual assault charges.
Corcoran said the mother of the child, now 7, lives out of the area, but that the child's grandmother was in court Friday and told the judge she was satisfied with the verdict.
Katsigiannis, who had been housed in Bergen County Jail while awaiting sentencing, also made headlines in 2011 when he appeared at Borough Hall to defend claims his dogs were escaping his property, biting neighbors' dogs and posing a significant danger to humans. The because they had not attacked any humans.