After two days of deliberation, a jury on Thursday found a former Modesto police sergeant guilty of four of seven felony sex offenses related to the abuse of his teenage daughter.
Family members on both sides of the courtroom began crying when the first guilty verdict was read for 42-year-old Robert Hodges.
The jury of five men and seven women found him guilty of two counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object, one count of lewd and lascivious acts with a child, and one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.
He was found not guilty of a second count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and on a third count of the same offense the jury found him guilty of the lesser offense of misdemeanor battery. Hodges also was found not guilty of oral copulation with a minor.
Shortly after the verdict, Hodges was handcuffed by bailiffs and remanded into custody. He mouthed something to his tearful mother as he was led from the courtroom.
Prosecutors said the sexual abuse occurred in 2009 and 2010 when Hodges’ daughter was 15 years old.
The victim testified that it began one day when she was home sick her freshman year in school. She said her father started by groping her, then molested her with his hand.
The molestation occurred about once or twice a month and escalated to intercourse, she said. After each incident, Hodges would apologize and say it was a mistake, the victim testified.
She said the abuse stopped at the end of her freshman year, but for a year and a half, she said nothing because she felt brainwashed and controlled; she feared harming her family.
The first mention of the abuse came in January 2012 when her father took away her cellphone and forbade her to date an older man.
She told her father he wasn’t anyone to tell her whom to date, then revealed the abuse in front of her mother.
The family continued living together for most of that year without again mentioning the abuse, until October, when the victim’s mother took her to police shortly after she and Hodges separated. Hodges was arrested at his home in Oakdale two days later.
He bailed out of jail and four months later was charged with two counts of violating a restraining order. He was found guilty of both misdemeanor counts Thursday.
Kirk McAllister, Hodges’ attorney, argued during the trial that the allegations were a means for the daughter to get her way and leverage for her mother in their divorce.
Hodges’ parents stand behind him. They say there was more to the messy divorce than was allowed in court. Stepfather Nick Tessitore said Hodges was a strict father but would never harm his children.
“What we don’t understand is why they never came to talk to us,” he said Thursday after the verdict, adding that they were always close with their grandchildren and daughter-in-law until the allegations divided the family. “None of this made sense to us.”
In the courtroom hallway after the verdict, Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees said, “I am very gratified for the victim to have justice and thank the jury for doing a great job and spending time on the case. They obviously believed her.”
Rees said the victim is “very pleased with the verdict, very pleased that the truth is finally out.”
Hodges is scheduled to return to court March 26 for sentencing.