Big Fresno Fair molester gets life in prison

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Sergio Gonzalez*/ never admitted he molested a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old girl at the /*Big Fresno Fair*/. He apologized to the girls' families for what they've been through, but claimed he's never intended to harm anyone. One family member wasn't buying it.

Gonzalez said, "I am not the type of person you think I am."

"Why'd you do it then?"

"But I also have my family."

Gonzalez was a traveling carnival worker stationed at different rides at the fair in 2009. On back-to-back days, the young victims came forward to say he touched them inappropriately. We're not showing the girls' family members to avoid identifying the victims, but they say their lives changed quickly and drastically.

"Our baby had to start growing up much too quickly. From the day we took her to the fair, we've had to have conversations with our baby that we weren't prepared to have."

Family members say the girls will forever live with the scars of their experience. But prosecutor Bob Whalen says the youngsters are brave heroes for reporting the crimes in the first place.

Whalen said, "Now it's finally coming to the point where they can, at night, close their eyes and say he's not going to do this to anybody ever again."

Once a jury convicted Gonzalez, he was assured of a life sentence, but Judge Rosendo Pena had some leeway in deciding how soon a parole board could consider releasing Gonzalez. Family members pleaded with for the maximum sentence to keep the 48-year-old in prison, permanently away from other kids.

"The damage has already been done to our children, but if you don't keep him locked up, then when he gets out, whose kids are we going to let him have? Whose grandchildren are we going to let him harm?"

Judge Pena gave Gonzalez half the maximum sentence -- 15 to life, instead of 30 to life. He'll actually be eligible for parole before he turns 60. His defense attorney insists an innocent man was convicted.

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