Saturday, January 19, 2008

Illegal alien assaults 13 yr old in canyon

Man gets 16 years for sexual assault on 13-year-old boy in Poway

By: TERI FIGUEROA - Staff Writer

Illegal immigrant plied boy with alcohol, prosecutors say.

SAN DIEGO ---- A Mexican national who admitted sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in a makeshift encampment in a secluded Poway canyon in July was sentenced Thursday to 16 years in a California prison.

Prosecutors said Jesus Nava, 31, plied the child ---- a stranger to him ---- with alcohol before eventually convincing the boy to follow him back to Nava's makeshift encampment in the rural, brushy hills behind Meadowbrook Middle School, which sits not far from busy Pomerado Road.

Neither the child nor his family attended Nava's sentencing; the length of his prison term was predetermined the day Nava pleaded guilty.

Authorities said the stocky transient, who worked at a carwash in the area, gave the boy watermelon and plied him with beer and hard liquor in the encampment before forcing the child down and assaulting him, according to the probation report in the court file.

Nava threatened to harm the boy's family unless he kept quiet about the assault, and slapped and kicked the child, the report stated.

The boy left the canyon, stopped a jogger and reported the rape, according to the court filing. Deputies, using a helicopter with a heat sensor, found Nava hiding in the canyon's heavy brush within six hours of the July 16 attack.

"The boy is doing much better. It was devastating to him and his family," Deputy District Attorney Dino Paraskevopoulos said after the sentencing in a San Diego courtroom.

Nava's defense attorney Kate Braner declined to comment after the brief hearing.

Nava pleaded guilty Nov. 15, on the day his case was to be presented to a judge to determine if there was enough evidence to send Nava to trial.

The early plea spared the child from testifying, where he would have had to "relive this violent crime," Paraskevopoulos said.

"Anonymity in these types of cases is very important," Paraskevopoulos said. "The victim did not have to testify. That was very important to his family."

When Nava pleaded guilty, both the prosecution and defense agreed to the 16-year prison sentence, as did the child's family, the prosecutor said.

Nava admitted to two felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one felony charge of using false documents to conceal his citizenship status. Investigators found a resident alien card and a Social Security card in Nava's name at his encampment, the probation report stated.

Nava, who turned 31 on Christmas Day, is from the Mexican state of Chiapas, according to the probation report, which stated that Nava had been in the United States since at least May 2007.

Under California law, he must serve at least 14 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. As a noncitizen, he will be deported after his release. He must also register as a sex offender.

Advocates who work with child sexual assault victims say attacks by strangers are uncommon. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2000 that only 7 percent of child victims of sexual assault were attacked by a stranger.

Nava approached the child while the boy was standing outside of the middle school. In pleading guilty, Nava admitted he befriended the boy with the intent to assault him.

The assault happened in an undeveloped canyon that frequently attracts migrant workers, transients and other homeless people who establish illegal camps in the tall brush, authorities have said.

Meadowbrook students who live in homes on the other side of the ridge have been known to use the area as a shortcut to and from school, although school officials discourage them from doing so.

On Friday, San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Dan Deese said deputies patrol the brushy area, sometimes flying overhead in a helicopter.

There are also increased patrols near the school, which sits at the end of a dark cul-de-sac by the canyon.

Deputy Bailiff Chris Pangalos leads Jesus Nava from the courtroom at the San Diego County Courthouse after Nava's sentencing Thursday. Nava received 16 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in a Poway canyon in July.

BILL WECHTER Staff Photographer

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