WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A victim of sexual assault faced her attacker Friday in a Palm Beach County courtroom.
The victim, a student at Palm Beach Atlantic University, was walking in downtown West Palm Beach in November 2021. Court documents said on the day of the assault, Cristian Leon told her he was lost, needed help with directions and his phone was dead before he followed and sexually assaulted her in an alleyway.
Two years later, the victim and Leon were in the same room again.
"You do not scare me," the victim, who isn't being identified, told Leon in court. "You do not have power over me."
The tense moment happened during Leon's sentencing hearing when a judge sentenced him to 30 years. His criminal background was a factor, and a judge had already given him the chance to alter his sentence in a previous conviction.
Aside from his criminal past, the state presented recordings of calls Leon made to his family from jail. Those calls are recorded and can be used in court.
In those calls, Leon said he was going to "come out hunting" after serving his time, according to evidence put forward by the state. Those same calls revealed that he felt like smacking the victim after she said she hoped he got the maximum time allowed, that he called her a liar and that he wants revenge.
"I think they are empty threats," the victim said. "I think he has little man syndrome, and so he feels the need to threaten us because he sees that he has no more power."
Following Friday's 30-year sentence, the mother of the victim, whom WPTV is not identifying, also spoke about what it means.
"For the girls, to know they're safe, I'm happy about that," she said. "And they know they can grow up and go on with their lives, and I'm happy about that. But, I feel, as a mom, I feel for mothers that have to see their son go away."
The state said a second victim has also come forward, and the case has similarities, including Leon following the second victim around downtown West Palm Beach.
Whether or not that will be taken to trial should be decided soon, according to the state attorney's office.
This is not the first time Leon has been convicted of a crime. In 2018, he was found guilty of impersonating a West Palm Beach police officer.