Not far from Disneyland in March 2008, Anaheim landlord Jose Agustin Lara Maya wanted more than rent from a family renting a garage room on his property.
Maya, then 71, wanted to have sex with the family's 11-year-old boy, named "O" in court records.
Under the ruse of using O to help translate documents for him, Maya managed to repeatedly separate the boy from his parents.
Once alone, Maya stripped off O's pants and underwear, masturbated him, asked him if girls made him hard and gave him $20 to keep his mouth shut.
Several other assaults occurred before the alarmed fifth-grader told his mother within a month of the crimes, according to court records. She wanted to go to police immediately, but O told her he was worried about being blamed for the landlord's conduct and that he might not be allowed to continue in school. He also worried that Maya would kick the family off his property and they would be homeless. In November, she decided to contact the cops and sex assault specialists interviewed O on video.
In March 2009, police arrested Maya. During an interrogation he admitted that he'd fondled the boy's penis. His explanation? He said he it was just a case of curiosity.
A 2010 Orange County jury agreed with prosecutors and found Maya guilty of having "substantial sexual" contact with the boy.
Superior Court Judge James Edward Rogan sentenced him to a five-year prison term based on two felony lewd and lascivious act convictions.
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Maya appealed, claiming that the jury should not have been allowed to watch O's video interview because the kid's assertions weren't reliable and that they also shouldn't have heard testimony from O's mother because it violated the hearsay rule.
This week, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered Maya's complaints and ruled the neither argument was valid because the boy and his mother were credible. What helped lead them to that conclusion? According to an 11-page opinion written by Justice Eileen C. Moore, it was Maya's decision to ignore his right to remain silent during police questioning and give a confession.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly