A 48-year-old man was convicted Tuesday of sexually assaulting and exposing himself to five girls in the courtyard of the Garden Grove apartment building where he and the victims lived.
Salvador Dirceo Agaton is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 20. Jurors began deliberations Monday afternoon and reached their verdicts Tuesday afternoon.
The investigation was triggered in October 2014 when one of the girls complained of a stomach ache to a school nurse, leading her to spell out the allegations to the school principal, Deputy District Attorney Juliet Oliver said in her opening statement of the trial.
Then the girl “described similar things that had happened to her friend,” Oliver said.
One of the girls who “wasn’t eager to say much” instead “drew a picture” for the principal, Oliver said.
Three of the girls were sisters and two were neighbors who enjoyed frolicking in the apartment courtyard.
“The defendant played with all of these victims, would throw them in the air, tickle them,” Oliver said. “He used that opportunity to sexually assault them and commit lewd acts.”
One girl told authorities he would “trick” the girls to “pull their pants down,” Oliver said.
“Sometimes he even gave them money,” Oliver said. “On one occasion the defendant exposed himself in the laundry room of the apartment complex.”
One of the girls, who is now 17, testified that all of the victims were playing in a patio area when they went into a laundry room and the lights were dimmed before Agaton came down the stairs from his apartment, “pulled down his pants” and then moved his hips “side to side” and “started laughing” as he exposed himself.
Agaton’s attorney, Jay Moorhead, said in his opening statement that the allegations are full of “glaring inconsistencies,” and there’s a “lack of detail” and “implausibility” in the case against his client.
One girl initially told investigators that the last time she was molested by Agaton was six months ago, but “then changes her story to the last time she was touched was first grade… You’ll hear inconsistencies right off the bat,” Moorhead said.
Agaton “used to joke around and play with these girls all the time,” Moorhead said.
Moorhead said it was “implausible” that none of the neighbors saw anything inappropriate in a busy courtyard, where many residents had balconies they hung out on.
A friend of the defendant testified that Agaton would often come to dinner and play with her daughter, Moorhead said.
“He was never inappropriate, never did anything wrong,” Moorhead said.
Agaton was convicted of one count of sexual penetration of a child 10 years or younger, four counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14, all felonies, and a misdemeanor count of child annoyance.
The jurors also found true sentencing enhancement for multiple victims. The alleged victims were 4 to 10 years old between 2011 to 2013.