GUATEMALA CITY – A man who offered private soccer lessons to young children was convicted in late May and sentenced to 111 years in prison for sexually abusing five boys and girls. Four of the children were siblings, including 8-year-old twin girls and two brothers, 6 and 15. The fifth boy was 9 years old.
IJM has been supporting this case since 2011, when the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office contacted an IJM lawyer for help. Both mothers are single parents, working hard and earning just enough to make ends meet. There was no way they could afford a lawyer to defend their children against the middle-aged man who had offered to give them soccer lessons.
Lawyers from IJM were able to strengthen the case by providing a psychiatrist to give important expert testimony, and by helping the mothers of the victims prepare to share the truth in court.
All five children received counseling from IJM’s team of social workers and psychologists, and they completed a trauma therapy program.
At the final hearing on May 28, 2014, IJM lawyer Juan Manuel Aquino Matus and the public prosecutor sat very close to the perpetrator and his counsel in the small court room. The judge convicted the man on all charges, including sexual assault, indecent exposure, rape and distribution of pornographic material to minors.
The strong sentence of more than one hundred years sends a clear message to the families—as well as others in the community who might think a position of authority shields them from the law.
IJM called both mothers to tell them the news. They were overcome with happiness and emotion. Lawyer Juan Manuel adds, “This sentence not only brings justice to an entire family, but also to these little boys and girls who looked for a father figure in the perpetrator and were betrayed by him.”