Santa Rosa, CA – September 16, 2021 – Defendant Jesus Paniagua-Rojas, 51 years old of Santa Rosa, was found guilty Wednesday afternoon by a Sonoma County jury of committing 18 felony sex offenses against two children from 2014 to 2018. The guilty verdicts followed a three-week trial, wherein jurors heard testimony from the victims and family members before beginning their deliberations.
A Santa Rosa Police investigation revealed that Paniagua-Rojas’ had regular and recurring access to the minor victims, and first began to molest one of the victims when she was 7 years old. He continued to molest her until she was 10 years old. The second victim testified that Paniagua-Rojas molested her multiple times beginning when she was 6 years old until she was 9 years old. During their testimony, both females described the mental and emotional trauma they suffered due to the abuse. Other witnesses corroborated the circumstances that allowed the defendant regular access to the children. Ultimately, Paniagua-Rojas was convicted of several charges of sexual penetration of a child 10 years old or younger, oral copulation with a child under the age of 10, and numerous separate charges for committing lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14.
A sentencing date has not yet been set, but Paniagua-Rojas faces a sentence of life in state prison. Nevertheless, recent California legislation allows prison inmates, including Paniagua-Rojas, to be considered for parole after serving only 20 years of their sentence. Penal Code section 3055 originally went into effect in 2018, and with few exceptions allowed for inmates who reached 60 years of age and served 25 years of their sentence to be considered for release back into the community on parole. However, this “elderly parole” provision was amended in 2020 to now allow inmates who have reached the age of 50 and served only 20 years of their sentence to be considered for parole.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Leslie Butori, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Dave Linscomb and District Attorney Advocate Elizabeth Garcia. Detective Tim Raymond of Santa Rosa Police Department headed the investigation.