A San Francisco man accused of sexually abusing a young girl living in his home was cleared of all charges today after a jury decided it was just a misunderstanding, according to the Public Defender's Office.
Angel Garcia, 32, got into trouble back in December when he was trying to break up a squabble between his 6-year-old son and the boy's 12-year-old cousin. The two kids were fighting over a video game when Garcia grabbed the girl on her side, several inches above her waist, to try to pull her off his son.
At that time, Garcia's girlfriend walked into the room and saw this, and jumped to the wrong conclusion, thinking perhaps he was touching her inappropriately.
"Mr. Garcia and his girlfriend were having relationship problems and
there was incredible tension between them. Her mental state was so
compromised by all the fighting and jealousy that she was feeling like
she didn't even know this man who had been her boyfriend for eight
years," said Deputy Public Defender Carmen Aguirre. "In this highly charged environment, there was a
misunderstanding that the little girl had been sexually victimized."
Garcia's girlfriend later reported it to her therapist, who was mandated to alert police. The girl then told the cops that Garcia had touched her
inappropriately over her clothing on two other occasions, according to the Public Defender's Office.
However, during the nine-day trial, a
psychologist specializing in trauma testified to that children have the tendency to avoid
contradicting a trusted adult by subscribing to the adult's version of events,
A jury deliberated for about two hours on Tuesday afternoon before
the San Francisco grocery store worker of three counts of
lewd acts upon a child. If convicted, he could have faced up to 10 years
in prison and be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his
Although Garcia, who has no criminal record, was found not guilty on all
charges, Aguirre called the case "a tragedy all around."
"Mr. Garcia spent six months in jail and his family is now fractured,"
she said. "The little girl had to go through the traumatic experience of
testifying and being cross-examined in front of a jury. She was a
victim -- not of what the prosecution claimed, but of being ensnared in
an adult situation she had nothing to do with creating."