Crime & Punishment: Man pleads no contest in four-year abuse case

A 23-year-old pharmacy technician will spend up to 20 years in prison for beating and molesting a 12-year-old girl for four years, including an 18-month stretch when he kept her as a sex slave in his basement, prosecutors said Wednesday.

John France Gonzales, of Daly City, was charged with 146 felony counts in 2006 relating to the alleged abuse from 2002 to 2006. He had until Wednesday to accept a plea deal offered by the county’s District Attorney’s Office or face a trial starting July 28.

He chose to accept the deal Wednesday, pleading no contest to 14 felony counts in exchange for the remaining 132 to be dropped, assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt said. Gonzales will face a maximum of 20 years in state prison, Pitt said.

“This does save the victim from what would have been a nightmare trial,” Pitt said.

The abuse began in San Bruno when the girl was 12 years old and Gonzales, then 18, was romantically involved with the girl’s aunt, Pitt said. Gonzales later allegedly held the girl captive in the basement of his parents’ Daly City home for 18 months, Pitt said.

His parents were unaware the girl was in the basement, Pitt said.

When the Daly City home was foreclosed upon, Gonzales released the girl from the basement and the two moved into the La Honda home of her parents, who had previously reported her missing.

Gonzales began physically abusing the girl, Pitt said, and at age 16 she informed her father.

“Maybe that’s what finally pushed her over the edge,” Pitt said.

Prior to the deal, Gonzales said the acts were consensual. Gonzales’ attorney, Paul Demeester, said the two had a “dating relationship” that was not the sex-slave-type scenario prosecutors alleged.

The court will assign a sentencing date July 23 while Gonzales remains in custody on $1 million bail.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

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