On Wednesday, a Lamar County jury convicted Humberto Oritz Balderas, 61, of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child, Indecency with a Child by Exposure, and Sexual Assault of a Child after two days of evidence and a half day of deliberations, according to First Assistant District Attorney Benjamin I. Kaminar.
“The defendant molested his stepdaughter for a period of years after she was brought to the United States from Mexico as a young child. He then relied on her fear of being deported to keep her from reporting his abuse,” said Kaminar. “However, this brave young woman found the strength and courage to face the man who began abusing her at 11 years old, despite the potential personal cost.”
The jury heard testimony from the victim, her family members, law enforcement, an expert in child sexual abuse, and therapists who had provided mental health treatment. The jury was also presented a phone call the victim recorded in which she confronted Balderas about his years of abusing her.
Balderas’s attorneys argued that the victim had fabricated her abuse claims in order to change her immigration status. “The jury considered that defense and ultimately believed the defendant when he admitted to his abuse on a phone call between the defendant and the victim,” said Assistant District Attorney Erin Lewis. “The victim and her family had every reason not to come forward and tell the truth, but ultimately that truth led to justice for this victim, and hopefully will lead to justice for other victims like her who might be too scared to speak up.” Balderas was sentenced to a total of 55 years in the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice. The first 30 years of his sentences must be served with no possibility of parole or good time credit.
Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young said, “This office will continue to prosecute predators who abuse our children. With this verdict, our community has said that they will hold abusers accountable regardless of the immigration status of their victims.”
The case was tried in the 6th District Court before Judge Wes Tidwell. Benjamin Kaminar and Erin Barbee Lewis prosecuted the case on behalf of the State. Balderas was represented by Darlina Crowder and Tom D’Amore.