Santa Barbara Courthouse. | Credit: John Thomas Rose

A Santa Barbara County man will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars after admitting to multiple counts of child sex abuse against a young girl whose family had employed him as an in-home caretaker for eight years.

In a statement released Friday morning, District Attorney John T. Savrnoch announced that 63-year-old county resident Manuel Navarro Magallon pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under 10 years old, nine counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child, and 16 counts of using a minor for sex acts.

Navarro Magallon was hired as an in-home caretaker for the victim’s brothers in 2011. In March 2019, the victim — then 13 years old — reported finding a hidden camera in her bathroom that she believed had been placed there by Navarro Magallon. On March 29, 2019, Santa Barbara police conducted a search of Navarro Magallon’s apartment that turned up several electronic devices containing numerous videos of the victim being molested when she was under 10 years old.

With his case set to go to trial and a jury impaneled, Navarro Magallon decided to plead guilty to 29 of the 30 charges he was facing this Thursday, May 25. He will be sentenced by Judge Michael Carrozzo in Santa Barbara Superior Court Department 12 on July 26 and faces a maximum sentence of 120 years followed by 60 to life in the state prison, according to DA Savrnoch.

“This just outcome could not have been obtained without the bravery exhibited by Jane Doe and her mother,” Savrnoch said in Friday’s statement. “The successful prosecution in this case can be attributed to the relentless efforts of Santa Barbara Police Detectives, District Attorney Investigators, and Deputy District Attorney Lauren Franco, who worked diligently to ensure the Defendant’s accountability for his crimes.” Savrnoch also thanked the jury “for their invaluable service in this challenging trial.”


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