Man, 65, gets 30 years in prison in child molestation plea agreement

December 15, 2012

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A 65-year-old Hood County man who on Monday pleaded guilty to continuous sexual abuse of two young children – family members – accepted a plea agreement of 30 years in prison, District Attorney Rob Christian said. Adding to the tragedy, two other members of the victim’s extended family had also molested the victims and other members of the family, Christian said.

Fernando Sanchez Zapata, of the Brazos River Acres subdivision in southeastern Hood County, admitted the molestation when interviewed by Investigator Robert Young of the D.A.’s Office, as well as to an adult member of the family, Christian said. The child reported the crime in April 2011. A second child in the family later reported to also being molested by Zapata.

The victims were taken to the Paluxy River Children’s Advocacy Center to be interviewed about what happened, Christian said. They also received medical treatment at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Christian said the first-degree felony offense, continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children, is a relatively new crime category created in 2007 by the Texas Legislature.

Zapata was facing 25 years to life in prison before the plea deal. He must serve the full sentence, which means he can’t get out of prison before age 95.

“Other than capital murder, which is punished (by) death or life in prison without parole, continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children is the only offense for which a defendant must serve every day of his sentence with no possibility for early release through parole,” Christian said, noting that Zapata is in poor health. “I believe that a 30-year sentence for Zapata is equivalent to a life sentence. Several of the children in his family had already endured two trials. I am glad that they were spared a third.”

Christian stated that the other two who had also molested family members were previously convicted and sentenced by Hood County juries. Juan Carlos Rosas was given five years in prison for sexual assault of a child. Jose Segura, who Christian said molested several children and was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child, was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

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