Wednesday, June 23, 2021

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District Attorney one for two on child sexual abuse cases

Ebed Mendoza Cruzck

A Williams man will be facing up to 23 years prison when he is sentenced in 2021 for sex crimes against a child.

Ebed Mendoza Cruz, 48, of Williams, pleaded no contest in Colusa County Superior Court on Oct. 14 to charges that he raped a child under the age of 14 years old and forced a lewd act upon a child.

Williams police officers arrested Cruz in the afternoon of June 2, in Colusa, on suspicion of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child under 10 years of age, kidnapping to commit rape, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation, and the continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Cruz was arraigned on June 5 on felony counts of having sex with a child under 10 and the continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Cruz pleaded no contest to the two lesser felonies in order to avoid going to trial, and he will be sentenced on Jan. 20, 2021.

Colusa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brendan Farrell, who prosecuted the case, said that Cruz would be required to register for life as a convicted sex offender.

Farrell did not get a similar outcome hoped for in another alleged child sexual assault case.

Gabino Valencia Estrada, 49, of Colusa, pleaded no contest on Oct. 14 to one single felony count of child endangerment in a plea deal that  dismissed rape charges.

Estrada was originally charged with raping a young girl in 2019, reported to be a family member, but after more than a year of court proceedings, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges, and amended the complaint to child endangerment, after the victim refused to testify.

The DA filed charges against Estrada on Sept. 19, 2019, accusing him of forcible rape of a child under his care who was under the age of 14, committing a lewd act upon a child, and sexual penetration by a foreign object.

Estrada was arrested on a bench warrant at the Sacramento Jail on Jan. 20, and was brought back to Colusa County for court proceedings.

Farrell said Estrada’s conviction on the lesser charge of child endangerment was unfortunate but that a rape case would be extremly difficult to prosecute without cooperation from witnesses.

Estrada could face a maximum sentence of six years in prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 9, but in exchange for his plea, Farrell will recommend four years supervised probation.

Under the terms of his probation, Estrada will be ordered to obey all laws, stay a minimum of 100 yards from the victim, and have no contact with any female under the age of 18.

He will not have to register as a sex offender, Farrell said.

Under California’s new law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, child sexual assault victims will now have more time to report allegations or file civil lawsuits against their abusers.

Currently, survivors must file a lawsuit within eight years of reaching adulthood or within three years of the date a survivor who has reached age 26 discovers or “reasonably should have discovered” they suffered damages, whichever comes later.

AB 218, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019, extends the statute of limitations from the time a victim is age 26 to age 40, and increases the period for delayed reasonable discovery from three to five years.

The bill also changes reference from childhood sexual abuse to childhood sexual assault, as defined. The new law will also change the provision governing confidentiality in childhood sexual assault claims. ♣

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