SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – An Upland man who sexually assaulted his young relative for seven years was sentenced Friday to 106 years to life in state prison.
Mario Hernandez, 59, was found guilty by a jury on June 3, 2016, of five counts: three counts of Sodomy with a Child Aged 10 or Younger, one count of Oral Copulation with a Child Aged 10 or Younger, and one count of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child.
Hernandez, along with his wife, was the boy’s legal guardian. He began molesting the child shortly after he was placed at Hernandez’ home at age 3. The sexual assaults continued until the victim was 10, when he finally disclosed to school friends that he was being molested.
According to Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss, who prosecuted the case, Hernandez withheld food and privileges from the victim unless he submitted to sexual acts, saying, “You owe me.”
“He would also refuse to sign the boy’s school planner if he did not cooperate,” Schmauss said. “As the victim grew older, Hernandez threatened harm to the boy and his brother if they told anyone.”
While sentencing Hernandez to the maximum possible sentence under the law, Judge Stanford Reichert, who presided over the trial, commented, “The crimes showed a high degree of cruelty, viciousness and callousness.”
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s courtroom comfort dog, Lupe, assisted both the victim and his brother during their courtroom testimony. This trial was the first in the county to use the comfort dog during a jury trial.
“This defendant will never again hurt a child,” Schmauss said. “The victim has been returned to the custody of his father and stepmother and is doing well.”