California foster dad gets 19 years to life for sex abuse of six girls

Reuters News
|
Posted: Feb 27, 2015 9:02 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A former Southern California foster parent was sentenced on Friday to serve nearly 19 years to life in prison for raping and sexually abusing a half dozen girls who were 9 to 15 years old while in his care, prosecutors said.

Felipe Hernandez, 68, pleaded guilty earlier this month to multiple felony counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child, lewd acts on a minor, child pornography and other sex offenses stemming from crimes committed over the course of six years, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

The abuse, which ranged from groping to rape, came to light in the summer of 2012 when a relative of Hernandez discovered a digital memory card containing video of him molesting one of the girls and reported it to the Santa Ana Police Department, the prosecutor's office said.

A spokeswoman for district attorney's office, Roxi Fyad, said the Hernandez case marked one of the more egregious instances of serial sexual abuse in the county's foster care system. "He violated his position of trust," Fyad said.

Two of his victims confronted Hernandez at his sentencing in court, saying the trauma they suffered had led them both to attempt suicide but that they had since moved on to "a better place in their lives," the prosecutor's office said.

Hernandez was sentenced to a term of 18 years and eight months to life in prison. His wife, Maria Esther Hernandez, 61, was sentenced separately in 2013 to three months in jail and three years of probation for her role as an accessory after the fact in trying to cover up the abuse, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman)