The family of a 15-year-old girl who was molested by another family member described in court Friday the pain the man's actions caused.
Albert Stewart, 30, accepted an agreement to serve a year in jail and remain on probation for three years in exchange for his plea of no contest to lewd and lascivious acts with a 15-year-old girl.
In September, Stewart fondled the breasts of the girl, who was asleep on his couch, and then masturbated, according to statements made in court by Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees during his sentencing. Police also found pictures of the sexual assault on Stewart’s cellphone.
He was arrested at a Modesto church the next day after the victim told her mother about the assault.
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“My daughter came to me broken that morning we met her at the church. It changed our lives forever,” said the victim’s mother, Cherrie. The last names of the victim’s family members are being withheld to protect her identity. “My daughter didn’t get out of bed with my husband and me for two weeks. She had nightmares.”
Stewart’s estranged wife, Tiffany, who is the victim’s sister, said the assault happened while she was asleep in the next room. The three had gone to a dinner and a movie that evening, and she was suspicious that Stewart was attracted to her sister, but thought she was being “paranoid.”
“I wish he would admit fault so we could move on and we’d never have to see him again,” Stewart’s estranged wife said.
Stewart never looked at the victim or her family while the statements were read. His gaze remained fixed on the front of the courtroom.
Cherrie, too, said she was disappointed that Stewart pleaded no contest instead of guilty.
“There is no remorse, right now it’s just a lie,” she said. He can’t even plead guilty, there’s no kind of ‘I’m sorry’ at all. I just pray that he can get some help,” Cherrie said. “As a Christian, I want to forgive him, but as a mother, I wish that he was in prison where he couldn’t hurt any other children.”
Stewart’s two-year prison sentence was suspended in exchange for his plea agreement, but he will have to serve it if he violates any terms of his probation.
Stewart’s attorney filed a motion to modify his probation so that he could have contact with his minor nieces, but Judge Marie Silveira said it was too soon to grant such a motion, adding that he could try again in six months or a year after he’d attended adequate counseling.
“These offenses when they are committed by strangers are terrible, but when they are committed by someone in your family, frankly, I think it’s even worse because (the trust is broken),” Silveira said.
Stewart must register as a sex offender for life. He is scheduled to surrender to the Stanislaus County jail on Aug. 2.