The grandmother of a 7-year-old Temecula boy molested by a convicted sex offender while the man showed him magic tricks said Friday that the defendant should have never been in the house, and his presence resulted from a caregiver’s failure to disclose his past.
“This has had a huge impact on all of us,” said the woman, who asked to be identified only by her initials, “W.K.,” to protect her grandson’s privacy. “It’s a lesson of not letting people into your home unless you really know who they are.”
William Arthur Hammond, 71, of Menifee was sentenced to 15 years in state prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to two counts of lewd acts on a child under 10 years old, along with a sentence-enhancing allegation of failing to disclose his sex registrant status.
The victim was fondled by Hammond on the afternoon of Feb. 17, 2018, while the boy was at his great grandmother’s house in the 44200 block of Cabo Street in Temecula.
“My mother has dementia and was under 24/7 supervision by her caregiver, Ani,” W.K. told City News Service. “Hammond was Ani’s friend, and he was driving her to the grocery store for things. My mother did not know him or anything about his past.”
Hammond was inside the Cabo Street residence after a grocery trip when W.K.’s daughter and three children, including the victim, arrived to visit.
According to a bail-setting affidavit filed by sheriff’s detectives, the defendant immediately volunteered to entertain the children in the living room while W.K. and her daughter spoke in another room.
Hammond played the piano for the children and then showed them magic tricks, focusing his attention on the victim, investigators said. While seated next to the 7-year-old, Hammond reached over three times and rubbed the boy’s privates over his pants, according to the affidavit.
“William also made the victim touch his crotch … by grabbing the victim’s hand and placing it on his body,” the narrative stated.
The other two children were not molested.
The defendant left the property before the others, according to investigators. At that point, the caregiver, a Filipino known only as Ani, informed W.K. that she was aware Hammond had committed crimes against children in the past.
“We were shocked. We just thought he was some quirky old man,” W.K. said. “We couldn’t believe he was a sex offender.”
The revelation prompted the victim’s mother to ask her eldest son whether Hammond had behaved inappropriately around him, and the boy replied affirmatively, revealing his and the convicted felon’s interactions, investigators said.
The victim was interviewed by Child Abuse & Neglect Unit specialists from the Riverside University Health System, and he detailed what had transpired, leading investigators to conduct an interview with Hammond.
“Hammond explained that if the victim was accusing him of touching, then it probably happened, but he didn’t remember,” according to the bail affidavit.
The defendant was taken into custody on the spot.
“This shows why you have to do your background checks,” W.K. said. “You cannot just let people into your home. I wish I had put cameras in my mother’s house. We had no idea (Hammond) was coming and going for three or four months. Hiring a caregiver is a tough thing. Ani was recommended to us. We had no idea she was associating with someone like this.”
She said the caregiver left the area soon after Hammond was arrested and has not been seen since.
According to court records, he was convicted in 1983 of sexually abusing a 7-year-old boy in Oceanside and one of the terms of his parole was to register as a sex offender under Penal Code section 290. The law prohibits an offender from having contact with minors, other than relatives.
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