On June 3, Mario Anthony Hernandez, a 59-year-old resident of Upland, California, was convicted by a Rancho Cucamonga jury of five felony counts of molesting a male child family member.
The conviction consists of "Three counts of Sodomy with a Child Aged 10 or Younger, one count of Oral Copulation with a Child Aged 10 or Younger, and one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child," according to a June 6 press release from the San Bernardino District Attorney.
Sexual abuse of children is usually perpetrated by someone known to the victim, notes the website Future of Children — a collaboration of Princeton University and the Brookings Institution. Most sexual abuse that is reported to child protection agencies involves family members.
The victim testified that Hernandez coerced him by a variety of means, including withholding food, refusing to sign his school work, and threatening physical harm (in addition to the other physical harm that he was already causing), the press release notes.
"The victim’s eleven-year-old brother told police that he had observed one incident of sodomy through the blinds that separated the boys’ room from the defendant’s room, and that he had heard the bed shaking another time,” said Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss.
Hernandez and his wife were legal guardians of the boy, who had been removed from the custody of his birth parents for unstated reasons.
According to the victim, the molestation began when he was 3, and got more severe when he turned 8. Hernandez’s wife was never present, said the boy.
"The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s courtroom comfort dog, Lupe, assisted both the victim and his brother during their courtroom testimony," the press release notes. "This trial was the first in the county to use the comfort dog during a jury trial."
The trial took place for 20 days, and the jury deliberated for three days before returning a guilty verdict. Hernandez will be sentenced on June 28; he faces 106 years to life in prison.