A South San Francisco man could face life in prison after being charged with molesting an 8-year-old relative over the last three years, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The 58-year-old man, who the Daily Journal is not naming as not to identify the victim, was charged Aug. 8 with seven counts of child molestation, including two alleging substantial contact with a child 10 years old or younger, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
The victim, a close step relative and South San Francisco resident, recently disclosed to her father that she had been molested for years during visits when she was left alone with the man, police Sgt. Tom Neary said.
The victim’s father reported the case to police Aug. 4 and the man was arrested Aug. 6, Neary said.
Wagstaffe said the first alleged incident occurred in August 2011 and Neary said the most recent was reportedly July of this year.
The man is currently being held without bail and is facing a life sentence based on the age of the victim, Wagstaffe said.
“When you have a molestation by somebody in a position of authority and it’s a very young victim, we aggressively prosecute them because we know the victim will suffer a lifetime of damage,” Wagstaffe said.
Wagstaffe said the man has been referred to a program that will set him up with a private defender and is set to enter a plea at his next court date Aug. 22.
Wagstaffe said cases where a young victim is traumatized at the hands of a relative are difficult and have lasting consequences for the abused.
“Any time you have a violation of that trust of a family member, obviously no child molestation is good or OK, but if you think about the level of trust, we know what that does to the child. With therapy some grow out of it, but for some it remains forever,” Wagstaffe said.
The man, who has no criminal history with South San Francisco police, is not a blood relative of the victim, Neary said. But the man had opportunity, as the girl would have family visits at the man’s home, Neary said.
Neary said it’s not unusual for children to take time to disclose alleged molestation to others and aren’t always clear. However, there is evidence corroborating this victim’s story in this case, although he wouldn’t confirm what it was as the investigation is ongoing.
Neary said it’s cases such as this that stress the importance for parents and guardians to encourage children to report inappropriate behavior.
“Unfortunately, we do see these types of situations in families. But it’s difficult to know if a suspect may have a propensity to do these types of things,” Neary said. “But it’s always good to encourage kids to have open dialogues with parents about the difference between good touch and bad touch and if anything does occur, to report it immediately to their parents.”
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