A 55-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for molesting two girls he lived with in Santa Ana.

Gerardo Noyola Benitez pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14 as attorneys were picking jurors for his trial. As part of the plea deal, seven other felony sex charges were dismissed. He was given credit for 2,053 days in jail awaiting trial and ordered to register as a sex offender.

According to testimony at his preliminary hearing, Benitez was the godfather of the brother of the two girls and lived with the family in Santa Ana. He began molesting one of the girls when she was 8 to 10 years old, police testified.

Benitez would molest the girl when she would get home from school and the parents weren’t home, police said. He stopped when the mother of one of the girls caught him molesting her daughter in the kitchen, prompting the victim’s father to kick the defendant out of the house, police said.

Benitez also molested the girl’s younger sister when he picked her up after school, police said.

Just before trial, Orange County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Macias ruled jurors would not hear incriminating statements Benitez made to investigators, according to court records.

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