Girl exposes grandfather as serial child molester - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Girl exposes grandfather as serial child molester

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EL CAJON (CBS 8) - A brave 7-year-old girl is being credited with exposing her step-grandfather as a serial child molester in her family's home.

An El Cajon jury found 46-year-old Sergio Conde guilty Tuesday of eight counts of child molestation. The jury deliberated just an hour and a half before returning its verdict.

The molestation was kept secret in the family for years, until the girl told her mother in January that Conde had been touching her cousin.

"One of the girls came forward and made a comment and that's how it all came out," a family spokesperson said. "So because of that we were able to find out about the others."

Three of Conde's step-granddaughters alleged substantial sexual contact and testified against him during the trial.

"It's been really hard for them," the mother of one of the girls told News 8. "They're not going to have a normal life; they're not, because of what happened to them."

Family members say two other step-granddaughters made similar allegations, but because of the circumstances, prosecutors were unable to file charges involving those two girls.  One of the alleged crimes occurred in Tijuana.

A police investigation revealed two other El Cajon women had been molested as children by Conde decades ago. They also took the witness stand at trial.

The victims testified Conde threatened to hurt their mothers if the girls told anyone about the molestation.

"She was afraid. She was afraid of this person," the mother of one of the victims said.

News 8 is not identifying the family or the girls because they are victims of sexual assault.

Experts say child abuse by relatives and family friends is the most common. Statistics show 90 percent of victims know their abuser said UCSD psychiatrist Michael Lardon.

"Family members do not want to believe that something like this could happen in the family," Lardon said. "If it comes out the family is splintered, ruptured, destroyed. People don't want want to see this type of thing."

That's why the mother of one victim decided to speak to News 8, to deliver a message to other young victims.

"I want them to know they don't have to be afraid," the mother said. "And they can come forward. There is a lot of support and a lot of people can help you."

Conde faces 15 years to life in prison when he's sentenced in January 2011.

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