A 47-year-old man was sentenced on Thursday to 90 years to life in state prison for sexually assaulting a female family member at their home in Hayward starting when she was 10 or 11 years old.
Antonio Vanegas was convicted on July 19 of nine counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14 and one count of forcible lewd acts on a child under 14.
Alameda County prosecutor Amanda Chavez said the charges against Vanegas alleged that he sexually assaulted the young victim on a regular basis when she was between 10 and 13 years old.
But Chavez said jurors weren't sure if the sexual assaults by Vanegas began when the girl was 10 or began when she was 11 so they acquitted him of four counts accusing him of assaulting her when she was still 10.
When the victim was in 8th grade she shared details of the sexual abuse with another 8th grade student who encouraged her to tell her mother about the abuse but the girl remained paralyzed with fear, according to Chavez.
The girl ultimately disclosed the abuse to her mother and aunt in the summer of 2017 when she was 15 years old and her mother immediately reported the abuse to authorities, Chavez said.
The Alameda County sheriff's special victims unit then began an investigation that resulted in Vanegas being arrested and charged, according to Chavez.
Chavez asked that Vanegas be sentenced to the maximum term of 145 years to life but Vanegas' lawyer asked that he only be sentenced to 20 years to life.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Scott Patton then ruled that a term of 90 years to life was the appropriate sentence for Vanegas.
Chavez said, "The important thing in this case is that the victim is a survivor and is growing into a very strong woman who was able to face her abuser and endure seven days of testifying."
Chavez said the victim, who is now 17 and will turn 18 in November, "has found her voice and has exhibited a lot of strength and has a very bright future ahead of her."
Two of the jurors in Vanegas' trial attended his sentencing hearing, according to Chavez.