Crime

Modesto man sentenced for sexually molesting three girls

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A 41-year-old Modesto man has been sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for sexually molesting three girls, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced in a news release Wednesday.

A jury on Oct. 25 found Gerald Wayne Morse guilty of four counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts upon a child younger than 14 years old, according to Stanislaus Superior Court records. The jury found him not guilty on a fifth count of lewd or lascivious acts.

The victims were identified in court as Jane Doe 1, 2 and 3. Morse was related to the three girls.

The Modesto Police Department began investigating Morse in March 2016, after Jane Doe 1 told her mother that Morse molested her on two occasions; she was 7 years old at the time.

Then, the two other girls felt safe enough to tell authorities that Morse had sexually molested them, as well, according to prosecutors. Jane Doe 2 and 3 told their mom that Morse had molested them several years before.

When investigators questioned Morse, he said he would wake up in the bedroom of Jane Doe 2 and 3, and he would be touching Jane Doe 3 under her clothing, prosecutors said in the news release. Morse also told police investigators that this had happened several years before, and he had made efforts to mend the damage he had caused.

Prosecutors said Morse claimed to remember very little about that time in his life, because of the medications he was taking.

Deputy District Attorney Erin Schwartz prosecuted the case. Morse was sentenced Dec. 21, according to court records.

Prosecutors said Morse was facing a maximum sentence of 90 years to life in prison, but Judge Shawn Bessey chose to run two of the counts concurrently and sentenced Morse to 40 years to life in prison.

During sentencing, Bessey said Morse failed to take responsibility for what he did and the lasting affect it had on these three girls, according to prosecutors.

If Morse is released from prison, he will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and remain on parole for the rest of his life, prosecutors said.

Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.

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