A 44-year-old man is facing up to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting his teenage niece in San Francisco, prosecutors said Thursday.
Rafael Duarte-Lara was found guilty on Wednesday of forcibly penetrating his 16-year-old niece at a Bernal Heights residence near Holly Park on Sept. 21, 2017, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Duarte-Lara was arrested the day after the assault.
“This brave young woman came forward to tell her story and to ensure a man she was terrified of was held accountable,” Assistant District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said. “She stood in front of her assailant and testified to the horrific experience she endured, and that is a testament to her strength and courage. It’s young women like her that give me hope.”
Court records show Duarte-Lara approached his niece when she was alone and offered her a $100 bill, saying she could use $20 of it to cover school costs.
Duarte-Lara proceeded to give his niece a hug which left her feeling “weird,” according to court records.
The physical contact escalated into a “massage” despite the niece’s protests. It was during this contact that Duarte-Lara pulled down his niece’s underwear and forcibly penetrated her with his finger.
Throughout the ordeal Duarte-Lara’s niece was “utterly frozen, in shock and afraid,” according to court records.
Afterwards prosecutors said he offered her more of the $100 to stay quiet.
According to court records, once Duarte-Lara left the room, his niece locked her door, changed her clothes and awaited until the house was quiet, before taking public transit to her grandfather’s house where she notified other family members and contacted the police.
The defense attorney for Duarte-Lara, Kwixuan Maloof, conceded that “there was clearly inappropriate touching,” but argued that the jury allowed bias, sympathy and prejudice to influence their decision.
Maloof said Duarte-Lara motioned to his client during the trial, calling his behavior “egregious and disgusting,” which Maloof said was “absolutely inappropriate by a district attorney, she should just stick to the facts and the law.”
Maloof said he will file a motion for a new trial alleging biased ‘prosecutorial misconduct’ and ‘instructional error’ on April 19th. It will be heard on May 2nd.