Turlock man pleads guilty in sex abuse of teen girl

08/21/2014 5:10 PM

08/21/2014 5:41 PM

A 34-year-old Turlock man on Thursday pleaded guilty to eight felony charges in the sexual abuse of a teenage girl for more than three years. His conviction was not the result of a plea deal.

Robert Daniel Gomes decided to plead guilty to all the charges against him and leave it up to the judge to decide how much prison time he gets. Deputy District Attorney Merrill Hoult said in court Thursday that Gomes faces a maximum sentence of 20 years six months in prison.

The victim, who was known to Gomes, was 13 when the abuse started, according to a filed criminal complaint. The sexual abuse with the victim, identified as “Jane Doe,” occurred from December 2009 through Feb. 6, 2013.

Turlock police have said the victim eventually told her mother, and the family then notified police.

Gomes was convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child and three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old. He also was convicted of sodomy and oral copulation with a person younger than 16, unlawful sexual intercourse with a child younger than 16, and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor more than three years younger.

The defendant remains free on bail as he awaits his sentencing. Jeffrey Tenenbaum, Gomes’ attorney, told the judge his client would plead guilty only if he was allowed to remain free on bail until sentencing.

If the court didn’t allow Gomes to remain out of custody, the defendant wouldn’t have pleaded guilty, and he would have remained free on bail as he awaited his trial, scheduled to start Sept. 22.

The trial likely would have been postponed because Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff is handling a lengthy, gang-related homicide trial being held in a former federal bankruptcy courtroom a few blocks away in downtown Modesto.

Other judges have been assigned to handle Zeff’s other cases four out of five days a week. Judge Edward Lacy was handling Gomes’ case Thursday morning.

Lacy accepted Gomes’ guilty plea and scheduled the defendant to return to court Sept. 23, when Zeff will hear arguments over a prosecution motion to have Gomes returned to jail until he is sentenced.

Zeff then will schedule a sentencing hearing. He will be the judge to sentence Gomes.

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