A 68-year-old Santa Ana man was sentenced Friday to nearly 19 years to life behind bars for sexually assaulting a half-dozen girls aged 9 to 15 that he met as a foster parent.

Felipe Hernandez pleaded guilty Feb. 13 to multiple felonies involving sexual assaults on the victims, as well as possession of child pornography, according to Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky.

He must serve 18 years and eight months in prison before he is eligible for a parole hearing, she said.

His wife, Maria Esther Hernandez, 61, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty to being an accessory and was sentenced in May 2013 to three months in jail and has since been deported to Mexico, Bokosky said.

She saw her husband raping one of the girls, prompting her to cut the girl’s hair and threaten her not to tell anyone and lie to social workers and police, Bokosky said.

If Felipe Hernandez had gone to trial, two more girls would have been ready to testify they were attacked by him, although he wasn’t charged in those cases, Bokosky said.

At one point while Bokosky was negotiating a plea deal with the defendant, he changed his mind and said, “The Lord has spoken to me and I want my trial,” the prosecutor said.

The sexual assaults came to light when a family member in the summer of 2012 came across a video of the defendant molesting one of the girls, Bokosky said.

Felipe Hernandez used the foster parent program to recruit victims, Bokosky said, saying he “didn’t want any boys, only girls.”

City News Service

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