A 59-year-old man from Upland found guilty of sexually assaulting a young male relative over a period of years faces 106 years to life in prison, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
Mario Anthony Hernandez was convicted Friday on five felony charges: three counts of sodomy with a child 10 or younger; one count of oral copulation with a child 10 or younger; and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, the DA’s Office said in a news release.
The victim was between the ages of 8 and 10 when the abuse for which Hernandez was convicted took place.
The defendant and his wife were legal guardians of the victim and his older brother after the two were temporarily removed from their parents, according to the release.
The molestation began when the victim was 3, according to the boy; he stated that the abuse escalated when he turned 8. The incidents almost always occurred when Hernandez’s wife was out of the house, prosecutors said.
Hernandez would withhold food and privileges from the little boy unless he submitted to sexual acts, telling him, “You owe me,” said Deputy DA Karen Schmauss, citing the victim’s testimony.
Further, he refused to sign the boy’s school planner or homework if he did not submit to the sex acts, according to the release. On occasion, the suspect threatened to harm him if the victim didn’t cooperate.
The young boy said the defendant also showed him pornography.
“The victim’s 11-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 Schmauss, according to the release.
The victim, now 12, testified against Hernandez in court for three days, two of which were under cross examination.
“It was very difficult for the victim … to testify about the terrible abuse he suffered at the hands of the defendant,” Schmauss said.
A jury deliberated for three days before returning the guilty verdicts.
“The defendant will never be able to harm another child,” the prosecutor said.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 28.