LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Judge Barry Bryan sentenced a 38-year-old Lufkin man to 30 years in prison Wednesday for molesting a 10-year-old girl on several occasions over a period of time.
At a sentencing hearing in Angelina County's 217th Judicial District Court, Juan Homero Hernandez was sentenced to three concurrent prison terms - 30 years each for two aggravated sexual assault of a child charges and a 20-year term for an indecency with a child charge. Because the prison terms are concurrent, Hernandez will be serving all three at the same time.
Hernandez is still being held in the Angelina County Jail. He was indicted on a total of five charges. However, at a plea hearing in November, he only pleaded guilty to three charges. Originally, his collective bond had been set at $375,000.
According to the arrest affidavit, the victim met with her school principal and counselor and told them she had been molested. After the school contacted her mother, the woman filed a report with the Lufkin Police Department.
When the victim was interviewed at Harold's House, a local child advocacy center, she told the interviewer that she had been staying at a house and that Hernandez had touched her inappropriately on several occasions. She said it began several years ago and stopped about a year ago.
"We actually start before the court case begins," Laura Squires, the director of Harold's House, said. "If there is suspicion by CPS or law enforcement that the child has been abused, they will often times bring the child here for a forensic interview."
Hernandez's charges are associated with different degrees of molestation described in the affidavit.
Police obtained a warrant for Hernandez's arrest on April 12, 2012, He was arrested the next day at a residence in the 900 block of Moore Avenue.
Harold's House is set up a way that makes the children feel at home, but also lets the staff and investigators determine what action needs to be taken.
"The goal of a child advocacy center is to make sure that the child gets taken care of in all aspects," Squires said. "Before there were child advocacy centers, children really got lost in a system that is set up for adults."
However, at the end of the day, the ultimate goal for the folks at Harold's House is to simply help victims heal the best way they can.
"We want to help them get past that and not have this particular event define who they are, but instead, have the good things in life define who they are," Squires said.
The staff at Harold's House said that they are happy to help with not only the emotional side of the cases but also the judicial side as well.