A Santa Barbara jury took just 18 minutes to come to a guilty verdict for the 34-year-old Carpinteria man who impregnated his 13-year-old stepdaughter in 2012. Charged with forcible rape and aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14 with a special allegation of inflicting great bodily injury, Santos Guevara could become the first child molester in the county to go to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
Prosecuting attorney Benjamin Ladinig argued Guevara shattered the childhood of his stepdaughter by sexually abusing her when she was 13. Twenty years her senior, Guevara forcibly raped her after pulling her pants down several times as she pulled them back up, Ladinig argued on Friday during closing arguments. “When a little 13-year-old girl pulls up her pants to keep her step-daddy from raping her, she is indicating no,” he charged. “Her first act of intimacy on Earth was by her stepfather putting his tongue down her throat,” Ladinig went on.
In early 2013, the girl went to the hospital complaining of chest pains, and doctors discovered that she was 17 weeks pregnant. Two days later, the girl had an abortion and stayed home from school for several weeks. These events constitute the special allegation, Ladinig contended, adding that pregnancy — though not typically considered such — is great bodily injury when it’s caused by rape.
Addressing the jurors, public defender Mindi Boulet acknowledged this was not an easy case to sit through, as there is no doubt Guevara committed lewd acts, sexual battery, and genital penetration. But Boulet contended that Guevara was never on top of the girl and that the intercourse was not the result of force, asking the jury to find him guilty of battery and assault instead. She further argued pregnancy is a “natural and human condition” and that emotional trauma — which the girl certainly experienced, she said — is not great bodily injury. “Your duty is to be a fact finder and not to determine if he’s a bad guy,” Boulet argued.
In February 2013, Guevara, who is from El Salvador, was arrested by U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Maryland, where he had fled to stay with his sister. According to ICE, he had been deported in 2010 but illegally reentered the country. He was brought back to Santa Barbara from Maryland and has been in County Jail without bail ever since. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11.