June 22 2011
LOS ANGELES – An El Monte man who sexually molested a 5-year-old child for at least a year and admitted taking pictures of the attacks – images that were discovered when he applied to be an officer with the California Highway Patrol – was sentenced today to 30 years in federal prison.
Christian Hernandez, 31, received the maximum sentence of 360 months in prison after pleading guilty in 2009 to one count of production of child pornography.
United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II sentenced Hernandez and ordered that the defendant, once he is released from prison, be on supervised release for the rest of his life. In addition to the prison term, Judge Wright ordered Hernandez to pay more than $71,000 for counseling for the victim until the victim turns 18.
Hernandez has been in custody for the past three years after being arrested by the SAFE Team (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement), a multi-agency task force coordinated by the FBI. The investigation began when Hernandez applied to the CHP and admitted in a background questionnaire that he had recently viewed child pornography. The CHP, which provides a full-time officer on the SAFE Team, immediately initiated an investigation and searched the El Monte residence where Hernandez had been living. Investigators found a collection of child pornography on Hernandez’s computer, including photos depicting Hernandez molesting a girl in the bedroom of the house.
In a series of court filings, prosecutors argued for the 30-year sentence to adequately punish Hernandez for his crimes and to protect the community. In briefs filed with the court, prosecutors noted that Hernandez was caring for the 5-year-old victim he molested, “possessed an extensive collection of child pornography depicting minors being raped by adult men,” and molested more than one child.
Hernandez “has no shame regarding his conduct, instead, he bragged about his conduct on a job application to the CHP,” prosecutors said in court papers.
During today’s sentencing hearing, Judge Wright said the lengthy sentence was warranted because of the enormous harm to the victims and Hernandez’s ongoing denial of “the full extent of the sexual abuse of the victims.”
Hernandez is expected to be transferred to state custody to face child molestation charges that have been filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The investigation of Hernandez was conducted by the CHP and the FBI’s SAFE Team in Los Angeles, which is comprised of agents, officers and prosecutors from the FBI, the CHP, the California Department of Justice – Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Lana Morton-Owens
Violent and Organized Crime Section