A jury has convicted a Roswell man of five counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor after a two-day trial and just under three hours of jury deliberations.
The courage and bravery of the victims coming forward to report the incident is what the district attorney is crediting for the conviction. Now, the victim’s family wants other victims of sexual assault to come forward.
Rudy Guajardo, 53, was convicted by a jury of 12 who deliberated for around three hours before returning the guilty verdict in Chaves County District Court Friday just before 5 p.m. Fifth Judicial District Judge Steven Bell ordered Guajardo remanded to the Chaves County Detention Center after reading the verdicts in court. Guajardo was originally charged with 10 counts of the same charge, but Chaves County Deputy District Attorney Emily Maher dismissed five of the charges prior to the start of the trial.
“It’s their testimony. Them coming forward, they’re the ones who did all the work,” Maher said.
Maher explained, after the conviction that it is normal in these types of cases for police not to go to the scene and attempt to collect evidence and interview others in the home.
“When you think about it, these cases in general are reported very late,” Maher said. “One of the offenses occurred when she was 13 years old. She’s now 16 years old,” So there’s a lot of distance in that time and there’s not a lot of evidence to be gained at that time.”
Maher said young victims of sexual assault have a range of emotions during the judicial process, which likely explained the smirking and smiling of victim A.B. while she was being sworn in, and during parts of her testimony.
“People do different things when they’re nervous. And they’re not nervous because they’re lying or not telling the truth. They’re nervous because they’re in front of a whole bunch of people about to talk about a very personal, intimate thing.”
During Friday’s proceedings, the defense called Kris Sam to the witness stand. Sam is the uncle of victims 15 and 11(identified by their age at time of offense.) It was discovered through testimony that Kris had exchanged Facebook comments with 15 right after Guajardo was arrested in March 2014. Sam testified that he was neutral on the issue, that he hadn’t taken a side with either Guajardo or his nieces. Then he revealed that Guajardo was always cuddling with the girls a lot.
“Which always creeped us out,” Kris testified.
According to testimony and the criminal complaint continued from the Friday Daily Record story, victim 13 testified she was sleeping on the couch at her grandmother Becky Sam’s house when Guajardo reached over and began rubbing her buttocks in a circular fashion. After giving him a confrontational look, Guajardo turned around and left her alone. The next day, she told A.B. that something weird had happened, and that she was scared. A.B. revealed to M.L. that Guajardo had been molesting her since age 11. Guajardo had been touching all three of her private parts underneath her clothes.
Victims 13 and 11 penned a letter to their mother Deanna Austin, stating what had happened. The girls gave their mother the letter, and said they would be at the stop sign two houses down from their home, and for their mother to come and talk to them at the stop sign. The note was crumpled up, according to testimony, and was never introduced as evidence.
Through family discussions after that, it was revealed that the third victim, 15, had also been molested by Guajardo on two occasions. Victim 15 was wearing shorts the first time, and had put on pajama pants in hopes to prevent a future attack by Guajardo. He again ran his hand up her leg, the second time up her pant leg. Victim 15 testified the pants were loose on the bottom and Guajardo could easily slide his hand up them and proceeded to touch both of her lower-body private areas.
The assaults happened between August 2012 and March 2014.
Guajardo is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 16 at 1:30 p.m. Guajardo was a Daily Record employee until his conviction. The victim’s grandmother, Becky Sam, remains a Daily Record independent carrier.
Cosby said he will appeal the conviction.
Mark Austin is the step father of two of the victims, and a family friend of the third. He gave a written statement after the trial.
“Today’s verdict was vindication for our girls. We hope that anyone going through this themselves would find strength to tell someone and if that person doesn’t believe you, keep shouting until someone hears you. For our family this is bittersweet and we ask for your prayers so that we can begin our healing. We ask that you pray for Rudy’s family that he may find the help he needs,” Austin said.
Austin asked the Daily Record to publish the phone number to local sexual assault crisis hotlines. To reach the Roswell Esperanza House SANE project, call 625-1457.
Multimedia Journalist Jared Tucker can be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or firstname.lastname@example.org.