Monday, June 18 , 2018, 9:37 am | Fair 63º


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Santa Maria Man Faces Life in Prison for Raping, Molesting 2 Young Sisters

Manuel Ruiz Rios Click to view larger
Manuel Ruiz Rios

A Santa Maria man was convicted Wednesday of repeatedly sexually assaulting and molesting two young girls over a period of more than two years, and is expected to be sentenced to life in prison for his crimes.

After more than two days of deliberation, a Superior Court jury in Santa Barbara handed down guilty verdicts on 13 felony counts against Manuel Ruiz Rios, 34.

The crimes against the two victims, who are sisters — identified in court as Jane Doe No. 1 and Jane Doe No. 2 — occurred between Aug. 26, 2012, and April 20, 2015, according to the criminal complaint filed against Rios.

The complaint indicates most of the illegal acts involved Jane Doe No. 2, and occurred when she was between 4 and 7 years old.

Court testimony revealed that the crimes occurred at several places in and around the victims’ home, including a couch in the living, a table in the bathroom, and in the backyard.

Rios was described as the "best friend" of the girls’ father, and spent a lot of time at the family's home, according to court testimony.

Jurors heard graphic accounts about the sexual abuse committed by Rios against the girls, which involved rape, digital penetration, fondling and oral copulation.

Both girls, who today are 8 and 10, respectively, testified in court about what Rios did to them.

The prosecution also played a video of Rios' interrogation by Santa Maria police, in which he admits to many of the sexual acts involving the children.

Deputy District Attorney Chrystal Joseph is prosecuting the case, while defense attorney Andrew Jennings is defending Rios.

The case was moved to Santa Barbara due to an overcrowded court calendar in Santa Maria.

"These two child victims were extraordinarily brave and articulate," District Attorney Joyce Dudley said in a statement after the verdicts were handed down. "As a result of their testimony, this defendant will never be able to hurt another child.

"Cases like this require exemplary investigation, which was done in this case by Detective Jose De Leija of the Santa Maria Police Department. 

"Finally, Deputy District Attorney Chrystal Joseph’s careful, zealous and compassionate prosecution made it possible for these two young girls to speak the truth.”

Rios is scheduled to return to court June 27 for sentencing.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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