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Couple Convicted Of Molesting Numerous Children Over 15-Year Period

A California couple were charged and sentenced for molesting at least 10 children. Some of the children were as young as three years old, while the oldest was 15. The couple have lived in several different California neighborhoods since 2001, and police fear there may be more victims out there.

Santa Clarita couple, 42-year-old Francisco Avendano and 32-year-old Jacqueline Wadsworth, were first reported when a 12-year-old victim told his mother that he was molested. The victim described horrific incidents during a sleepover at the couple’s home. His mother reported the two to authorities and said that such sleepovers are common at the family's home.

Officers investigating found that the abuse was common in the couple’s home. When they moved to new locations, they would befriend the local parents and children to gain their trust. They would groom the children and eventually invite them for a sleepover, where heinous acts of abuse would take place.

"[Avendano] would befriend neighborhood children and the friends of family members, and then sexually assault them," said Sergeant Brian Hudson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau told The Signal. "It's a horrific case, and that's why we're concerned there may be other kids out there just based on the nature and the amount of kids that have been involved so far."

The sergeant also said that Avendano admitted to police that he told kids, "If you say something, I will harm you, I will harm your family."

Once police began investigating and the case made news, multiple victims began coming forward. Some of the victims were family members. Police began interviewing people in other neighborhoods where the couple, who have children of their own, had previously lived. Even more victims came forward. Thus far there have been 10 victims, and police believe there may be more. Since some instances of abuse went back at least fifteen years, it might be difficult to track down all victims, especially if any are now adults.

Avendano was held on $2 million bail, and Wadsworth was held on $220,000 bond. At first, both denied all charges against them. Ultimately, Avendano pleaded no contest to 12 counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14, two counts of lewd acts on a child 14 years old and one count each of lewd acts on a child 15 years old and continuous sexual abuse, reads a report from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to 48 years in prison.

If he’s ever released, he’ll have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Wadsworth pleaded no contest to one charge of lewd acts upon a child under 13. She was given five years of felony probation and no jail time. As part of her probation, she must register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, cannot contact the victims, and must spend 52 weeks in a sexual compulsion program. She also has to take an HIV test and provide DNA samples.

Source: Daily Mail
Photo: MailOnline

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