As the guilty verdict was read in court Monday morning, relief washed over the mother's face.
Her 15-year-old son, the victim, had leaned into the arms of his older brother seated next to him, buried his face and began to cry. The family — mother and father, a daughter and two sons — were in court to hear the outcome of the trial of 33-year-old Hilario Viruncruz, who was ultimately found guilty of sexually assaulting the boy in September 2018, when the boy was 13, after luring him into his vehicle under the pretense of getting paid to do yard work. The boy eventually escaped by fighting Viruncruz off and running to a nearby home for help.
Viruncruz was convicted of kidnapping with intent to commit lewd and lascivious acts and committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 by force. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced in March. In court Monday, Viruncruz showed little emotion as the verdict was read.
"It will always be with me," the boy said afterward.
The Californian does not generally identify victims of sexual assault, or their family members.
The boy testified about what happened during the trial, and he and his family wanted to speak, without giving their names, after the verdict to encourage other children to speak up about sexual assault.
"He's basically ruined my childhood," he said, adding that he's still scared to walk to the store, or go to school because he's worried someone will approach him and the harrowing ordeal could happen again.
On Sept. 1 2018, the boy was walking on Horace Mann Avenue near Niles Street when Viruncruz, working beneath a truck, called out to him and asked if he wanted to make some money helping him with yard work, the boy told police, according to reports filed in Kern County Superior Court. The boy agreed but said he needed to ask his parents first, so Viruncruz offered to drive him to his parents' house, the documents said, and handed the boy $20 when he got in the vehicle.
When the boy noticed they were headed in the wrong direction, Viruncruz said he needed to ask his brother about something, the documents said.
He then parked next to an empty lot on Balvicar Drive off Fairfax Road, telling the boy he ran out gas, the documents say. He began to ask the boy if he wanted a massage, and though the boy said no, started rubbing the boy's neck and reaching down his shirt. Viruncruz then stuck his hand underneath the boy's pants, the documents say.
At that point, the boy said, he managed to fight off Viruncruz and run to a nearby residence where he asked for help.
Viruncruz told police the boy tried to steal his wallet when they were in his truck and then ran off.
Sitting in the chairs lining the courthouse hallway outside the courtroom, the boy continued to hold his head in his hands and wipe tears from his face with the sleeve of his hooded sweatshirt. His brother and sister sat on either side of him, as prosecutor Samantha Allen knelt down to speak to him.
"He's gone forever. He can never do that to anybody, ever again," she told him.
During the trial, Allen presented evidence that Viruncruz viewed child pornography on his cell phone.
"He's a hero because he stopped this guy from doing this to someone else," Allen told the boy's parents.