A 23-year-old Buena Park man faces up to 50 years to life in state prison after an Orange County jury convicted him Wednesday of raping a 2-year-old girl he was babysitting in 2016, officials said.
Working under special conditions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Arthur William Robert Callender guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 10, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Callender was scheduled to return to court for sentencing on June 12.
Disturbing internet posts first tipped of investigators to the crimes, officials said.
“Callender was arrested in October 2016 after officers working on a Task Force with the Department of Homeland Security launched an investigation into several inappropriate internet postings involving a female toddler,” prosecutors said in a written statement.
The subsequent investigation led detectives to identify the victim and suspect. Callender was arrested Oct. 6, 2019, Orange County booking records show.
Records listed Callender’s occupation as “security.”
Callender’s trial was in process on March 23, when the California Supreme Court issued an “unprecedented” order suspending court trials for 60 days to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Given the serious nature of the crimes and the advanced stage of Callender’s trial, Orange County Superior Court Judge Andre Manssourian found good cause to exempt Callender’s trial from the suspension order,” according to the DA’s office statement.
Jurors maintained social distancing during the trial, “with jurors being spread out across the entire courtroom instead of being restricted to the jury box,” the statement said. Many in the courtroom wore masks as a precaution.
Orange County DA Todd Spitzer commended the jury members for their important work under the highly unusual circumstances.
“The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is incredibly grateful to the jurors for their commitment to the criminal justice system,” he said. “Despite the challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, these men and women came to court, considered the evidence, and returned a verdict that will keep this monster behind bars for decades. Their selflessness will prevent him from victimizing other children.”