Crime

Turlock man faces potential life prison sentence for sexually abusing two girls

How to recognize the signs of physical child abuse

CDC statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year. It is something that pediatricians and emergency room physicians are trained to watch for.
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CDC statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year. It is something that pediatricians and emergency room physicians are trained to watch for.

A 34-year-old Turlock man faces a maximum of more than 26 years to life in prison for sexually abusing two girls, who were 8 and 9 years old when they were victimized.

A jury on Feb. 4 found Christopher Bonander guilty of five felony counts, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday in a news release.

Bonander was convicted of oral copulation of a child, committing lewd and lascivious acts upon a child younger than 14 years old and exhibiting harmful material to seduce a child.

The Stanislaus County jury did not convict Bonander on two of the seven charges listed in a criminal grand jury indictment filed in court March 9.

The defendant was arrested in July 2016 and has since been in custody awaiting prosecution.

Turlock police investigators were notified of the abuse in April 2016. A police investigator obtained recorded phone conversations in which Bonander admitted to the girls’ mother that he committed the sexual abuse, according to prosecutors.

In 2014, Bonander started living with his then-girlfriend and her children. Prosecutors said the sexual abuse occurred from December 2015 through April 2016.

Christopher Bonande_fitted.jpeg
Christopher Bonander Turlock Police Department

Bonander’s two-week trial included testimony from the victims. The jury also heard the recorded phone calls between Bonander and the mother.

Turlock police Detective Tim Redd asked the mother to call Bonander. Prosecutors said Bonander — in those recorded phone calls — admitted to her that he sexually abused one of the girls, and that he showed pornography to both girls.

Bonander testified in his trial, claiming he admitted to the sexual abuse just to appease his girlfriend, so she would agree to a reconciliation and allow him to move back in, according to prosecutors. The defendant refused to admit that he exposed himself to the girls.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees, who prosecuted Bonander, told the jury that Bonander’s story was “ridiculous and unreasonable.”

After last week’s guilty verdict, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Robert Westbrook scheduled Bonander to return to court March 8 for his sentencing hearing. He remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.

Bonander faces a maximum sentence of 26 years and 8 months to life in prison. If he is released from prison, Bonander will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, prosecutors said. He also would be subject to an evaluation as a sexually violent predator.

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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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