OAKLAND — On Tuesday afternoon, a federal judge is expected to sentence a Pleasanton man who in 2014 took a flight to the United Kingdom to marry a 14-year-old girl, who later told police he molested her during the two days they spent together.
David John Telles Jr., 43, was tried and convicted last year of child enticement and traveling to meet a minor for illicit conduct. Authorities say he brought an engagement ring on his trip to meet the girl, that he planned to marry her in Scotland, and that the two met and began chatting through the online video game Clash of Clans.
Defense attorneys say that Telles’ conduct, as well as his bizarre behavior during trial — including fainting spells and attempts to dissuade others from cooperating with police — is due to his lifelong battle with mental illness. In a sentencing memo, they describe Telles as a, “lonely human being with no friends, no happy future, and no ability to conduct himself in normal behavior.”
Federal prosecutors, though, describe Telles as a predator who spent a month “grooming” his victim before taking the extreme step to meet her in person, and that a judge found Telles’ erratic behavior in court was a “charade.” Prosecutors asked for a sentence of 25 years in federal prison.
In June 2014, Telles convinced the girl to run away with him. After he flew to the UK and she ran away from home, they spent two days in hotels around the country before British authorities tracked them down. The girl later told police she had sex with Telles, who was 38 at the time, and that she didn’t want to but saw no other option, since they were alone in a room.
Telles spent two years in a UK prison before being brought to the United States to face trial.
During his U.S. trial, Telles, “engaged in calculated attempts to obtain a mistrial,” prosecutors wrote, adding that he was exaggerating his mental illness as a last-ditch effort to duck responsibility in the case.
“When the Minor Victim finished testifying, (Telles) stood up, took off his jacket, threw himself to the floor, and pretended to be unconscious, which greatly rattled and distressed the Minor Victim, and caused the jury to be immediately ushered out of the courtroom,” prosecutors wrote, describing one of several disruptions during trial.
Defense attorneys counter that Telles actually fainted, and point out that he was later transferred to a hospital and outfitted with a catheter and “other painful stimuli tests,” after he spent six days there without responding to anyone. They added that Telles was not a predator, but a delusional man who grew up with: “no concept of social behavior. He stuttered and dressed oddly. He had terrible reading abilities and was inarticulate, no social graces, never dated, never drank, never went to parties. He was never intimate with a woman until his marriage.”
“He believed he was saving the life of this young English woman from molestations from a parent and teachers,” defense attorneys Michael Stepanian and Jennifer Naegele wrote, later adding that Telles had been molested as a kid.
Telles’ sentencing hearing has been set for 1 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White, in Oakland.
Check back for updates on White’s decision Tuesday afternoon.