Crime

Man who used candy to lure kids ‘is the definition of a child predator,’ prosecutor says

Pascagoula A Texas man described as the “definition of a child predator” used candy, ice cream and other goodies to lure two children into a private room to film them.

Once there, Jose Juan Guzman’s primary target, Assistant District Attorney Justin Lovorn said, was a then 4-year-old girl he manipulated into thinking she was doing something and dancing for him.

“In the pictures, you can see the 4-year-old girl in different stages of undress,” Lovorn said.

Guzman filmed the then 4-year-old and another girl, then age 7.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of child exploitation in the case in July. He was in court Monday for sentencing.

A grand jury indicted Guzman, 61, on five counts of touching of a child for lustful purposes and two counts of exploitation of a child. The crimes occurred in September 2015. Pascagoula police investigated the crimes.

The other charges were dropped because of the plea. In addition, Lovorn said, “I am glad that we were able to resolve this case through a plea so that the victim did not have to suffer through the additional trauma of trial.”

Prior to sentencing, numerous relatives of Guzman pleaded with the judge to be lenient on him because he had always supported his family financially and was good man. They said they do not know what prompted him to do what he did, and many said they don’t believe he did it.

Judge Robert Krebs noted Guzman had lived a good life without any prior criminal acts, but said the crime was a serious one before sentencing him to 30 years on each count, with 15 years to serve day-for-day. The sentences will run concurrently.

The judge also said Guzman will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

His family openly wept when the judge imposed the sentence.

Krebs noted that — as opposed to other child exploitation cases, where the courts don’t normally know exactly who the victims are — this case was an exception.

The mother of the children, who is enrolled in drug court, sent a letter for a prosecutor to read prior to sentencing.

The mother told Guzman he had taken away her children’s innocence and that was something that never could be replaced.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence also weighed in, noting that in addition to pictures and images of the child, “this case is about an actual child who was sexually abused and has had that abuse memorialized.”

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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