A Mabelvale man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of raping a relative at various times from when she was age 7 until she was 10, according to a news release from the Saline County prosecuting attorney’s office.
Sergio Sanchez Gonzales, 45, was found guilty by a Saline County jury on Monday. The jury later levied the 30-year sentence.
The victim, who is now 11, testified about the abuse that occurred when the two were alone in Sanchez Gonzales' home, saying that he would tell her not to tell anyone about it, according to the release.
Officials with the Saline County prosecuting attorney's office said the girl told one of her friends about it at school, and then that friend told a teacher. The teacher spoke to the victim, then called the Child Abuse Hotline and testified in court.
The Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children Division investigated, and the Saline County sheriff’s office arrested Sanchez Gonzales on Dec. 11, 2020.
“The vivid recall of this little girl of the terrible events that happened to her were compelling and difficult to hear," Prosecuting Attorney Chris Walton said in the release. "The jury listened carefully as she recounted things that no young child should have to endure. We are grateful that the jury worked hard and rendered a just result.”
Walton also noted the presence of a comfort dog at trial. The prosecuting attorney said it was the second trial in Saline County in which Barb, a labrador mix, was used to help a child victim feel more comfortable. Barb is specially trained to sit quietly at a child’s feet during testimony and is hidden from the jury’s view.
Judge Ken Casady noted Barb’s good behavior at Sanchez Gonzales’ trial, the release states.