Monday, December 5, 2022

Willits Man Pleads Guilty to Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child


The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney:

With his trial looming and scheduled to get underway a week from Monday, defendant Juan Diego Vazquez Cendejas, age 23, of Willits, waived his trial rights Friday morning and plead guilty to having continuously sexually abused a child under the age of 14 years, a felony.

After the defendant’s guilty plea was accepted and entered into the court record, the defendant’s case was referred to the Adult Probation Department for preparation of a background packet to accompany the defendant to state prison.

The defendant will be formally sentenced on October 14, 2021 at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department A of the courthouse in downtown Ukiah.

Those interested in this defendant or the stipulated outcome are welcome to attend what should be a relative brief sentencing hearing. Be aware that masks are still required in and around the courthouse.

As background, “continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 years” is a crime that requires that the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused either resides in the same home with a minor child victim under the age of 14 years or has recurring access to said child, and who over a period of time, not less than three months in duration, engages in three or more acts of “substantial sexual conduct” or lewd and lascivious conduct with the child victim.

As used in the definition of this crime, “substantial sexual conduct” means oral copulation or masturbation of the minor, or penetration of the minor’s vagina or rectum by the other person’s penis or by a foreign object.
The sentencing triad set by the Legislature in Sacramento for the crime of continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 years is 6, 12, or 16 years. To resolve this matter, the prosecutor required the defendant to stipulate to the aggravated state prison term of 16 years.

Continuous sexual abuse is characterized by California law as a violent felony so any work or good time credits the defendant may attempt to earn towards his early release from state prison to parole supervision shall be limited to no more than 15% of the total sentence that will be imposed; or, put another way, it is currently believed that this defendant should be required to serve 13.6 years.

Upon his eventual release from prison on parole supervision, the defendant will be required to also register annually for life as a sex offender with local law enforcement in the city or county where he eventually resides.
The law enforcement agency that developed the evidence support today’s conviction was the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

The prosecutor who has been and will continue to handle this case through sentencing is Assistant District Attorney Dale P. Trigg.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder accepted the defendant’s change of plea and will be the sentencing judge on October 14th.



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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a journalist for the everyman. Journalism has become a craft practiced largely by the urban elite. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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