Man Sentenced for Sex Crimes against Mentally Challenged Woman

FRESNO, Calif. Former Safe Harbor van driver Gilbert Chavez took a plea deal Tuesday that'll send him to prison for a five-year sentence.

Chavez stood silently as his victim's family tearfully attacked him for his crimes and their lasting effects.

"I just want to let this man know how he has shattered my sister's, my mother's, my whole family's lives," said the victim's sister.

We're not showing the family on camera to protect the victim's identity, but they call Chavez a monster who worked his way into their good graces as a van driver for Safe Harbor Adult Day Care.

His victim was a 45-year-old woman with the mental capacity of an 8-year-old -- essentially a girl who, her family says, has lost her innocence.

"My sister will never be the person that she was," said her sister.

Chavez faced several charges, but he only pleaded guilty to two sex crimes.

Prosecutors made the deal because the victim's family wanted to keep her from having to testify in court.

"You know, imagine how hard it might be to prove a rape," said prosecutor Victor Lai. "Well, imagine how hard it might be to prove it with someone who might not have a normal person's sense of time."

The sentence means with good behavior, Chavez could get out of prison in the next two years, but he'll have to register as a sex offender and his attorney says he accepts the consequences.

"He's taking this strongly to heart, not only for the impact he's made against the victim's family, but also his own," said defense attorney Martin Taleisnik. "I mean his family and his life here in this area is over."

The fvictim's family is considering a civil lawsuit against Safe Harbor, where Chavez worked for three years, but the business has closed in the months since its van driver's arrest.

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