December 14, 2012 | Back to: News

Penn Valley man held on child molestation charges

After tearful testimony by his two grade-school daughters, a Penn Valley man will answer on multiple counts of child molestation, a Nevada County Superior Court judge has ruled.

Ryan Paul Christensen, 32, had been charged with four counts of sexual intercourse or sodomy of a child younger than 10, three counts of lewd acts on a child, two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child, one count of committing a forcible lewd act and two counts of sodomy of a child younger than 14.

Which charges Christensen will still face remains to be seen, however.

Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ow was to file an amended complaint after Judge Candace Heidelberger found enough evidence to hold Christensen to answer on a number of the counts. But Heidelberger also found evidence to be insufficient with several of the counts; it was not clear as of press time what changes would be made to the complaint.

The charges cover a time period from 2006 to 2011, and the girls allegedly were as young as 5 years old at the time of some of the incidents. The case is complicated by the fact that the girls’ stepfather already has been convicted of molesting both girls in Placer County.

Christensen faces a sentence to 30 years to life; he refused a plea agreement that could have netted him a year in jail (with a possible maximum of eight years in prison) and mandatory sex offender registration.

The girls — who now are 9 and 11 — needed frequent breaks as they testified Thursday during a preliminary hearing into the evidence against their father.

The older girl told Judge Candace Heidelberger that her father might have molested her more than once, but she could recall details of only one incident. She said she fell asleep on her father’s bed and woke up to find her pants and underwear pulled down and her father touching her with his privates.

She testified that she did not tell anyone because she was afraid of getting spanked and that she would get into trouble.

The younger girl did not remember specific instances, saying, “It happened a long time ago.”

She did say her father was “touching me in a bad way.”

She testified that in a conversation last year, her mother helped her remember some of the things she had said when she was younger but added, “the things I said today are the things I remember.”

She also testified that she was not mixing up her stepfather and her father.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call (530) 477-4229.

Liz Kellar

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The Union Updated Dec 18, 2012 01:29PM Published Dec 23, 2012 09:48PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.