SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A husband and wife who ran a daycare center out of their Mission Valley apartment were convicted Thursday of abusing a 2 1/2-year-old girl in their care.
After a five-week trial, jurors convicted Mark Kaczmarczyk, 59, of felony child abuse and committing a lewd act on a child and found true an allegation of substantial sexual conduct.
He was acquitted of child abuse and lewd conduct charges concerning a 2 1/2-year-old boy who suffered a bruised penis.
Anita Kaczmarczyk, 45, was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse in connection with the boy and felony child abuse on the female victim. She was acquitted on felony child abuse and lewd act on a child concerning the boy and lewd act on a child on the female victim.
Mark Kaczmarczyk faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced April 29. His wife faces up to six years and four months behind bars, said Deputy District Attorney Lucy Weismantel.
"The jury made the decision. It was a difficult case, very long and drawn out," the prosecutor said outside court. "There was a lot of evidence for them to consider, and I do believe, based on the evidence and their questions, that they responded appropriately."
Gretchen von Helms, the attorney for Anita Kaczmarczyk, said there was plenty of reasonable doubt in the case.
"I was a little bit baffled by the jury verdict," von Helms said, adding that she respected the panel's decision.
Von Helms surmised that jurors convicted her client of misdemeanor child abuse because they thought the defendant became upset with the boy during his potty training.
Mark Kaczmarczyk's attorney, Gerald Smith, said he was surprised by the verdicts.
"We put on a strong defense, and I think the evidence showed it," Smith said outside court.
In her closing argument, Weismantel said the two children were not injured before coming to the defendants' daycare, which they operated from their small apartment.
The prosecutor said Mark Kaczmarczyk abused and sexually assaulted the children, and his wife lied to authorities to cover it up.
Anita Kaczmarczyk took out a license to run "Anita's Family Daycare" at the end of 2006, and by September 2007, one girl and three boys had suffered genital injuries, the prosecutor said.
Weismantel urged the jury to convict the defendants of the charges against the two children, using evidence produced to show that two other boys, a 2-month-old and a 1-year-old, were molested by the Kaczmarczyks.
Judge John Einhorn granted a defense motion to dismiss charges involving those two boys at the end of the case.
Weismantel said Mark Kaczmarczyk showed a consciousness of guilt by withdrawing $30,000 from a bank account in December 2008 and fleeing to Taipei, just before charges were filed in the case.
"He was trying to hide from what was happening here," the prosecutor told the jury.
Weismantel said the parents had no reason to lie.
"Circumstantial evidence shows that lightning does not hit four times in the same household," she said.
When a mother complained to Anita Kaczmarczyk that her son had a bruised penis, the defendant lied about what happened, according to the prosecutor, who said Anita Kaczmarczyk facilitated the abuse by getting children for her husband.
"There's no way she doesn't know what's going on," the prosecutor said.
Weismantel said that Mark Kaczmarczyk abused and sexually assaulted the 2 1/2-year-old girl in September 2007.
But Smith alleged the father of the girl is the one who abused her.
Smith said the victim's father thought Mark Kaczmarczyk was "weird" and pointed the finger at the defendant when he found blood in his daughter's diaper.
After the verdicts, Judge John Einhorn reduced Mark Kaczmarczyk's bail from $4 million to $200,000 and reduced his wife's bail from $2 million to $75,000. The judge told both defendants they were not to leave California should they make bail and get out of custody.
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