Man Tied To Local Religious Group Sentenced In Child Sex Abuse Case

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WACO (March 1, 2012)-- A man who admitted he had ties to a well-known Central Texas religious community pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated sexual assault a child and was sentenced to state prison.

Fifty-fourth State District Court Judge Matt Johnson sentenced Richard Santa Maria, 32, to serve 35 years.

An arrest affidavit obtained by News 10 shows Santa Maria in late July 2011 admitted to sheriff's deputies he had been sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl for more than two-and-a-half years.

The abuse reportedly happened at Santa Maria's home on Ross Road, just a short distance from Homestead Heritage Ministries, a religious community to which Santa Maria either does or did have ties.