A 26-year-old Merced man on Monday was sentenced to 10 years in prison for repeatedly molesting three girls under the age of 10 who were attending his mother’s at-home daycare dating back to at least 2010.
Tensions were high following the sentencing hearing Monday in Merced Superior Court and nearly boiled over outside the courtroom when supporters of the victims got into a heated exchange with some relatives of the defendant, Mario Abarca-Basabe. The groups were separated before the confrontation turned violent.
Abarca-Basabe had been facing a potential lifetime prison sentence before cutting a deal with prosecutors last month that included pleading guilty to three felony sex crimes. As part of the deal, four additional charges were dropped, according to court records.
Investigators said Abarca-Basabe repeatedly abused three girls who were under the care of his mother as a babysitter between at least September 2010 and November 2017, according to court records.
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One of the girls told authorities she was about 5 years old when Abarca-Basabe repeatedly sexually assaulted her, reports state. Two more girls said they were younger than 10 years old when Abarca-Basabe reportedly touched their private areas with his hand.
Abarca-Basabe also allegedly watched pornographic videos with the victims and other girls who were in the daycare, according to reports.
One of the victims told investigators “He ruined my childhood,” according to police reports.
On Monday, the parent of one of the victims echoed those feelings.
“To me, personally, this has destroyed my life as a mom,” the mother of one of the victims said through a Spanish interpreter, adding that she wanted to make sure Abarca-Basabe doesn’t cause harm to any children again.
Another family member told the Sun-Star they were glad Abarca-Basabe was “where he belongs.”