Newark – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced today that Gery Destra, 21, of Maplewood was sentenced to 29 years in New Jersey State Prison yesterday by the Honorable Verna Leath, Judge of the Superior Court, for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl.

In October of 2017 an Essex County jury convicted Destra of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and child endangerment for offenses that occurred when the child was 6 and 7-years old.

Destra must serve 25 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, according to Assistant Prosecutor Kathleen Lyons-Boswick, an Essex County assistant prosecutor who tried the case.  He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Under the Jessica Lunsford Act a defendant convicted of raping a child younger than 13 years of age must serve a minimum 25-year prison sentence before he is eligible for parole. Destra  will also be under parole supervision for life and required to register under Megan’s Law when he is released from prison.

“This has been a long and trying ordeal for the victim and her family. Yet, they had the strength and courage to see this through. Now, a man who poses a serious threat will be behind bars for a very, very long time,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Lyons Boswick.