Plea change in case of child molestation
November 13, 2013
A Penn Valley man changed his not guilty plea and pleaded no contest to one count of sexual penetration of a minor, according to the Nevada County District Attorney.
Ryan Paul Christensen, 33, changed his plea on the eve of the trial as attorneys were selecting jurors.
"This is a good resolution," said District Attorney Cliff Newell. "It was a very complicated case with severely traumatized victims. This keeps them from having to relive the horror by testifying in a trial."
The no contest plea resolves a case that dates back to 2011, when officials charged Christensen with four counts of sexual intercourse or sodomy of a child younger than 10, three counts of lewd acts on a child and two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child, a count of committing a forcible lewd act and two counts of sodomy of a child younger than 14.
By pleading to one count, Christensen will likely serve time in the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility and upon release be registered as a sex offender and subjected to three years of probation with a greater level of scrutiny applied than with normal offenders, Newell said.
"The victims' parents were consulted prior to resolving the case," Newell said, adding that his office was happy to be able to keep the children off the witness stand. The girls — now 10 and 12 — needed frequent breaks when they testified during a December 2012 preliminary hearing.
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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.
The older girl told court officials during the December hearing 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 Matthew Renda, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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