District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that defendant Nathan Christian Wandrey, 48 years old of Santa Rosa, was sentenced by the Honorable Mark Urioste to serve 756 years in prison following his convictions in November following a jury trial at which he was found guilty of 158 sexual offenses committed against a child. Wandrey’s jury trial, which began in October, was the first criminal jury trial in Sonoma County since the Sonoma County Superior Court reduced its operations in March in response to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This was a horrific pattern of conduct by this predator. The words of the victim ring loud and clear. We appreciate members of the community serving on a jury during this challenging time, and through their dedicated service and decision, this defendant will be denied freedom for many years to come.”
The charges resulted from Wandrey regularly and repeatedly molesting his former girlfriend’s daughter over the course of years. At trial, the victim explained her vulnerabilities as a child, and explained how Wandrey taught her that what he was doing to her was normal for a father figure to do. The victim described Wandrey molesting her multiple times each week beginning when she was 12 years old and lasting through the age of 14. It was only later on as a teenager that the victim began to fully understand the wrongfulness of the sexual abuse inflicted by Wandrey. In a statement read on the victim’s behalf at sentencing, the victim explained: “Nathan Wandrey is capable of molesting a child not just once, but countless times. He deserves no pity. He deserves to suffer as I have suffered from the trauma that should have ruined the rest of my adult life…The bags under my eyes serve as scars of the countless sleepless nights and night terrors. Now, I can get the closure I longed for. I can sleep, work, love and eat on a regular basis now that I don’t have a cloud of exhausted misery raining on my conscience. Now, I can live. And as long as this monster remains in prison, my life can stay that way.” In imposing the sentence, Judge Urioste noted Wandrey took advantage of a position of trust and confidence in committing his crimes against a particularly vulnerable child, that each offense of sexual assault of a child was a separate act of violence against the victim and Wandrey’s crimes demonstrated cruelty, viciousness, and callousness.
This case was the first criminal case in Sonoma County to proceed to a jury trial since the enactment of safety measures at the State and local levels in March 2020, and a corresponding reduction in court activities, in response to the public health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to ensure safety during the jury selection process, a jury was selected in a building at the fairgrounds that allowed for social distancing. After a jury was selected, jurors were seated throughout the courtroom during trial proceedings, as opposed to taking the traditional juror seats along the side of the courtroom between the attorneys and witnesses. The court also required everyone in the courtroom to remain masked and socially distanced.
Although Wandrey was sentenced to 756 years in prison for the 158 crimes of sexual assault and molestation he committed against a child over the course of years, recent California legislation now allows prison inmates, including Wandrey, to be considered for parole after serving only 20 years of their sentence. Penal Code section 3055 originally went into effect in 2018, and with few exceptions allowed for inmates who reached 60 years of age and served 25 years of their sentence to be considered for release back into the community on parole. This “elderly parole” provision was amended this year to now allow inmates who have reached the age of 50 and served only 20 years of their sentence to be considered for parole. At sentencing, the victim in this case expressed: “The fact that twenty years from now he could be put on parole sickens me. Nobody who has done what Nathan did should ever be a member of society.” She said, “After years of knowing and living with him, I can safely say he will never change. He is not the kind of person who is capable of changing. He is a liar, he is manipulative, and he would do it all again if given the chance.”
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Andrew Lukas, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Ken Pistorio and District Attorney Victim Advocate Elizabeth Garcia. Detective Teddy VanBebber of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department headed the investigation.