A Fillmore man was found guilty Wednesday of 15 counts related to the repeated molestation of four young relatives as young as 6 years old, prosecutors said.
Henry Mata, 67, was convicted of one count of oral copulation on a minor under age 10, one count of digital penetration on a child under age 10, seven counts of lewd acts upon a child under age 14, five counts of forcible lewd acts upon a child under age 14, and one count of annoying or molesting a child, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Jurors also found true the allegation that the defendant committed crimes involving substantial sexual conduct against multiple victims.
The verdict was returned after a nearly three-week trial, the Ventura County Star reported.
The victims were in tears on the stand and didn’t want to testify, partially because Mata had told them they wouldn’t be loved or believed if they shared what happened to them, Senior Deputy DA Tom Steele told the newspaper.
The first victim approached sheriff’s detectives in April 2016 and said Mata had molested her several times inside his home when she was 8 years old.
Mata was subsequently arrested and charged, and three other relatives soon came forward to accuse him of sexually abusing them numerous times between 2004 and 2014, when they were between 6 and 12 years old, prosecutors said.
Two other relatives of Mata’s also testified at trial that he abused them when they were 7 to 10 years old, while living in Santa Paula in the 1980s, officials said. Mata was not charged for those alleged crimes.
The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced May 15, when he will face a maximum possible sentence of more than 300 years to life in state prison.