A Santa Ana man whose girlfriend watched as he raped her 9-year-old niece and who had sex with a separate live-in girlfriend's 12-year-old relative, was recently sentenced to 70 years to life in state prison.
Jurors on April 23 found 43-year-old Cruz-Sanchez guilty of two counts each of having sex with a child younger than 10, oral sex with a child younger than 10, sexual penetration of a child younger than 10 and lewd acts with a child younger than 14, while also finding true sentencing enhancements for multiple victims. Estela Garcia, the girlfriend who watched, cut a deal to exchange a guilty plea for a 20-year prison sentence.
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Cruz-Sanchez told the 12-year-old not to tell his then-live-in girlfriend about the molestation that happened in 2006-2007 because it could jeopardize her pregnancy. The 9-year-old, who was victimized in 2010-12, was exposed to pornography and Garcia and Cruz-Sanchez having sex in front of her.
Garcia told investigators Cruz-Sanchez claimed because she was not a virgin when they got together, his Jehovah's Witness faith required him to have sex with her niece. Garcia claimed she feared he would leave her and cut off financial support if she did not convince the 9-year-old to perform sex acts on Cruz-Sanchez. Garcia said she initially lied to investigators about her involvement in the sex abuse because she feared deportation and losing custody of her children.