A Lompoc man faces 115 years to life in prison after being found guilty Wednesday of molesting his daughters and granddaughters over a period of 17 years.
After about one day of deliberating, a Santa Maria Superior Court jury found Jesus Buenrostro guilty of seven counts of aggravated sexual assault, oral copulation, rape and sodomy, along with three counts of lewd acts upon a child. The molestation occurred from 1999 to 2016.
The prosecution had no comment on the verdict, but Senior Deputy Public Defender Lori Pedego expressed her disappointment.
"The accusations alone just create a heavy burden on the defense, and we're disappointed in the verdict," she said.
In her opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Savrnoch maintained that Buenrostro repeatedly sexually abused his three daughters, when they were under the age of 10, despite the girls telling him "no." Pedego, in her opening arguments, countered that the girls gave conflicting statements, lied to police about Buenrostro and accused interviewers of manipulating Buenrostro's grandchildren into telling them what they wanted to hear.
During trial, Buenrostro's eldest daughter, Jane Doe No. 1, now 27, testified that the abuse began while she and her family lived in Lompoc when she was 8. One night, she and her sister were sleeping on the floor, when she felt Buenrostro on top of her, raping her and causing her to bleed. The abuse continued even after the family moved into another residence, and it was then he began having vaginal intercourse with her.
Doe also testified that she and Buenrostro worked at a local winery when she was about 16, and abuse occurred there as well. Two incidents occurred at the winery site, once in a refrigerated room where the grapes were stored, and another in a room behind the winery, where Buenrostro reportedly asked Doe to perform oral sex on him multiple times, and flashed her.
Buenrostro then went on to sexually abuse Doe's sisters, Jane Does No. 2 and 3, according to trial testimony. None of the sisters knew it was happening to the others, as they didn't discuss it with anyone until Doe No. 1 contacted the police in March 2009.
Later, the sisters decided to move in with other family members, and didn't communicate with their father. Several years passed, and the girls began reconnecting with Buenrostro after his only brother committed suicide. Two of Buenrostro's daughters became mothers themselves, and allowed Buenrostro to babysit their children, whose ages were 3 and 5.
Later, both found out Buenrostro was also abusing their children, and reported it to police, according to trial testimony.
The jury also listened to testimony given by defense expert witness Dr. William O'Donohue, who raised concerns about suggestive interview tactics officials allegedly used to manipulate and extract information from young, vulnerable children.
O'Donohue testified last Friday that suggestive techniques used in forensic interviews could result in leading questions, which made the children change their answers, or even create false memories.
Buenrostro is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 23.