Jury finds Bellmead man guilty in sexual assault of girl who visited home in summer 2018
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A jury on Thursday found Jose Luis Calderon, 41, guilty of continuous sexual abuse of a child a day after a 15-year-old girl testified Calderon sexually assaulted her about 30 times during a summer visit to his Bellmead home in 2018.
Jurors deliberated about two hours before reaching a verdict.
At about 4 p.m. Thursday, the same jury handed down a sentence of life in prison without parole.
A 15-year-old Illinois girl testified Wednesday that Jose Luis Calderon sexually assaulted her about 30 times during her summer visit to his Bellmead home in 2018.
Calderon, 41, a family member of the girl, is on trial in Waco’s 54th State District Court on a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a young child.
Prosecutors Tara Avants and Will Hix are expected to rest their case Thursday morning.
The younger girl testified she and her younger brother were visiting Calderon from May 2018 to August 2018 when she was 11. She told the jury that Calderon touched her inappropriately at least 20 times that summer and sexually assaulted her about 30 times.
“I was always confused,” she said. “He told me not to tell anyone about it or he would go to jail.”
The girl said when she returned home to Illinois, she fell into a deep depression because of the abuse. She said she tried to take her own life by taking pills at least twice and harmed herself by cutting her wrists and legs.
The girl’s mother testified that she noticed a distinct difference in her daughter’s behavior after she returned from Texas that summer. She said her daughter was sullen, moody, shunned her friends and lashed out in anger.
She threatened to send her back to Texas, thinking Calderon might be better able to control her erratic behavior. She said her daughter did not answer her that day, but told her the next day that Calderon sexually abused her.
“She said he did to me what you do to have kids,” said the girl’s mother, who testified with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter.
She said she took her daughter to the Moline, Illinois, police department, where she reported the alleged abuse and then was interviewed at a children’s advocacy center.
She told the jury about her daughter’s suicide attempts, saying the most recent one landed her in the hospital in early December. She also described how she cuts herself.
“She says she does that to try to help her forget everything that has happened,” she said
During cross-examination from Calderon’s attorney, Melanie Walker, the woman acknowledged that her daughter has since alleged that her grandfather sexually assaulted her, too.
Avants asked the woman if her father abused her when she was younger.
“He tried,” she said.
If convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a young child, Calderon faces a minimum of 25 years in prison without parole up to a maximum life term without parole.
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