A 58-year-old San Leandro man was sentenced today to 115 years to life in state prison for his conviction on five felony sexual assault counts for raping a family member when she was eight and nine years old several years ago. Jurors deliberated for only one day before returning their verdict against Arthur Esver on July 8. They found him guilty of four counts of intercourse or sodomy with a child under the age of ten and one count of sexual penetration with a foreign object on a child under ten.
Prosecutor Samantha Kim told jurors that Esver took advantage of the family member’s trust in him and sexually attacked her after he made her comfortable by buying her ice cream and playing puppets with her. Kim said Esver had regular access to the girl and “was someone she trusted, cared for and looked up to.” The charges stem from incidents that occurred in San Leandro between May 2010 and March 2011, according to Kim.
The prosecutor said that after the fifth alleged incident, the girl, who is now 12, finally told a family member what was happening to her because “she couldn’t take it anymore and had to tell someone.” Kim said there was physical evidence to corroborate the girl’s allegations against Esver. But Esver’s lawyer, Roger Hecht, told jurors that they should find Esver not guilty of all the charges against him because there’s no evidence that the girl was physically harmed or that Esver had sex with her. Hecht said, “This girl is a virgin. This crime never occurred.”
At the sentencing hearing today Hecht asked Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vernon Nakahara to give Esver the lightest sentence possible because any prison sentence would be “tantamount to the death penalty” given Esver’s age. But Nakahara said that under state sentencing guidelines he had no option except to sentence Esver to 115 years to life. Nakahara said the girl who was molested by Esver “is having a very difficult time since these incidents were reported.”
The judge said the girl has made three attempts to commit suicide and is still in counseling, although she is now doing better in school. The girl and her family didn’t attend Esver’s hearing today. Kim said she spoke to the girl’s family members afterward and she said, “They are very pleased with the sentence and are relieved that this is finally over for her.”
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