Opening statements were made Friday in the case involving a Lompoc man who allegedly molested his daughters, and his granddaughters over the course of 17 years, and reportedly threatened to hurt them if they ever spoke about it to anyone else.
Jesus Buenrostro was charged last summer by the District Attorney's Office with multiple felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor by force, oral copulation and lewd acts with a child. The abuse reportedly began in 1999, then occurred again in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and twice more in 2016.
His daughters, who are now adults and are identified as Jane Does No. 1, 2 and 3, were under the age of 10 when the alleged abuse occurred. Buenrostro also reportedly molested the 5-year-old daughters of Jane Doe No. 2 and 3.
In her opening statements, Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Savrnoch, who is prosecuting the case, told the jury that Buenrostro repeatedly sexually abused his three daughters, despite the girls telling him "no."
Doe No. 1 was 8 years old when Buenrostro came up behind her one night when she was lying on her stomach, and forced penetration, which caused her to bleed, Savrnoch said. The abuse continued until 2008.
Buenrostro began abusing Doe No. 2 when she was 9, during which he’d force oral copulation, Savrnoch continued. He began abusing Doe No. 3 when she was about 6.
One day, Doe No. 3 was playing dominoes with Buenrostro, who told her that as part of the game "whoever loses has to get naked,” and threatened her when she refused, Savrnoch said.
The girls never told anyone nor did they know it was happening to each other, Savrnoch said.
Lompoc Police were contacted in March 2009 when Buenrostro allegedly had been drinking and became violent. The abuse was not disclosed at the time and he was not arrested.
During their teens, after they had moved to a relative's house, Does No. 1 and 2 realized they had been abused and reported it to police, who then later discovered Doe 3 had also been abused, Savrnoch said.
After several years passed the three girls, now mothers themselves, reconnected with Buenrostro, who began baby-sitting Does No. 2 and 3's 5-year-old daughters.
Later, Does No. 2 and 3 found out Buenrostro was also touching their daughters. The two children would show interviewers exactly where Buenrostro would touch them, Savrnoch said.
"After you hear all the evidence, we'll be asking you to return a verdict of guilty."
Attorney Lori Pedego, who is defending Buenrostro, countered the arguments, telling jurors there are two different road maps to navigate the trial — the prosecution and the defense. She characterized the prosecution's map as one that includes ever-changing stories from the girls, conflicting timelines and lies told to police to manipulate Buenrostro's fate.
"They have a history of changing their stories," she said. "These aren't stories about whether socks are blue or purple."
When Buenrostro wasn’t arrested in 2009, [Does No. 1 and 2] began telling stories of "horrific abuse that occurred years before," Pedego said.
Officials then went to interview Doe No. 3, who said no abuse ever took place. However, a few weeks later, Doe No. 3 changed her story, Pedego said.
"I'm not as good as the prosecutor because I can't keep the number of stories straight of what [Does 1, 2 and 3] said," Pedego continued. "They were interviewed by police multiple times, and it's telling that every time, their stories changed, not in little degrees, but in huge degrees."
When they testified on the witness stand at an earlier hearing, "their stories changed again," Pedego noted. Doe No. 1 first said no intercourse occurred, so Buenrostro wasn't arrested.
A few weeks later, Doe No. 1 "ups her game," Pedego said.
"Now she claims she was having intercourse ... a few times a week. When police asked her for specifics, she couldn't come up with any. Buenrostro isn't arrested, once again."
In 2017, Doe No. 2 and 3’s 5-year-old daughters were questioned by police after Doe No. 2 went to the police, claiming that her child was abused by Buenrostro and contracted a urinary tract infection, Pedego said.
In the child’s video interview, “It’s chillingly telling how officials used suggestive techniques” to get the child to say what they want to hear," she continued. "Doe No. 3’s daughter told detectives Buenrostro never touched her, but someone at her school did, which the officials didn’t care about but kept pressing about Buenrostro.
"We ask you to listen to the defense's road map, to follow our path, and if you do, you'll have no option but to return a verdict of not guilty on all counts and charges against Mr. Buenrostro," Pedego concluded.
Testimony resumes Tuesday.