A 40-year-old Santa Ana man accused of forcibly raping a preteen girl and getting her pregnant has become the first person to receive a life sentence in an Orange County sexual assault case, prosecutors announced Friday.
Demetrio Rojas Perez was convicted in June on four felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 and one felony count of forcible lewd acts on a child under 14, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The jury also found true sentencing enhancement allegations that the defendant inflicted bodily harm on a victim under the age of 14 and personally inflicted great bodily injury during the commission of the crime for which he was convicted.
Perez, who was “in a position of trust” with the young victim, began sexually assaulting the girl when she was just 12 years old, including forcibly raping and digitally penetrating the preteen, according to prosecutors.
The girl screamed and attempted to fight back, but Perez covered her mouth and threatened to kill her and her family if she reported the incident, the release stated.
The numerous attacks took place over a period of seven months, and in mid-2014, the victim discovered she was pregnant, according to prosecutors. At that point, she contacted authorities and the Santa Ana Police Department began an investigation.
DNA evidence confirmed Perez impregnated the victim, the DA’s office said.
Perez is the first person in an Orange County sexual assault case to receive a life sentence in state prison without the possibility of parole.
He received the sentence under California’s One Strike Law. The law, enacted in 1994, was amended in 2010 to add a mandatory life sentence in prison “if certain underlying forcible sex crimes are committed against a minor victim with one or more of the enumerated ‘major’ factors or two or more of the enumerated ‘minor’ factors,” the release read.
In Perez’s case, the qualifying factors were forcible lewd acts on a child under the age of 14 and the sentencing allegations of bodily harm, according to the DA’s office.