Atwater teen arrested in sexual assault of 7-year-old

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comJuly 27, 2013 

— A 17-year-old boy was arrested after he allegedly molested his 7-year-old female neighbor earlier this month, according to Atwater police Lt. Sam Joseph.

The teen is accused of breaking into the child's home in west Atwater and then climbing into bed with the girl, Joseph said.

The victim's mother heard sounds coming from her daughter's bedroom and called police. When she opened the bedroom door, she caught a glimpse of him as he climbed out the window.

Joseph said the mother recognized the juvenile as her neighbor, and called his mother to report what happened. The boy ran back to his own home, where he was confronted by his mother and allegedly began assaulting her, Joseph said.

Officers arrived at the home and heard the sound of a physical altercation inside. The juvenile, who Joseph said was on active probation, slammed the door shut when police tried to enter the home.

He was subdued and taken into custody after a physical struggle with police, according to Joseph.

Police believe the teen placed his hand underneath the victim's clothing and molested her, but fled from the window when he heard noise and panicked.

He was booked at the Merced County Juvenile Hall and will face charges for child molestation, penetration, burglary and vandalism.

A hearing will be held to determine whether he should be charged as an adult in the case.

The juvenile's brother, Gordon Columbus, 20, is wanted by police on an active felony warrant for grand theft, assault and probation violations, Joseph said. Columbus also is a suspect in a shooting at the Aptos Apartments in February of this year.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call the Atwater Police Department at (209) 357-6396.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@merced sunstar.com.

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