FALL RIVER — A Fall River man was sentenced to serve up to 30 years in state prison after being convicted at trial of repeatedly sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s young daughter over the course of several years.

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III says that after a three day trial in Fall River Superior Court, 39-year-old Cruz Santana was convicted by a jury of his peers of rape of a child aggravated by age and indecent assault and battery on a person under 14.

Cruz Santana dated the victim’s mother since the victim was 2 years old.  The original report in regards to this case came in 2014, when the victim disclosed during a Forensic Interview that the defendant had touched her vagina between her clothes and underwear on three separate occasions.  That disclosure led to the defendant’s arrest and the beginning of a district court case, which was pending for about two years before the victim made further disclosures. During her second Forensic Interview, the victim said she was coming forward with the full story because she was now older and had been going to counseling regularly.

During a second Forensic Interview in late 2016, the victim revealed the defendant anally, digitally, and orally raped her on numerous occasions.  She disclosed that he also physically assaulted her with his hands, a belt, and a broom.  The defendant would also force the victim to watch pornography. This abuse occurred when the victim was between the ages of 8 and 12.   Evidence presented at trial and the testimony of both the victim and her mother proved the defendant raped the victim on more than 10 occasions.  He would wait until the child’s mother was out of the house and then would force the victim into his bedroom.

During a sentencing hearing before Judge Thomas McGuire, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Friedel argued for a 25 to 30 year state prison term, while the defendant requested a more lenient 10 year state prison sentence.  Judge McGuire sentenced the defendant to serve 25 to 30 years in state prison, to be followed by five years of supervised probation.

“I am very pleased that the jury held the defendant accountable for  repeatedly sexually abusing the young victim. He took advantage of his relationship with the victim’s mother and the trust the  victim placed in him as a father figure,” District Attorney Quinn said.  “The defendant deserved the substantial sentence imposed by the court, but it cannot erase the impact the abuse has had on the victim. I commend the victim for her perseverance in this case and hope she can move forward with her life now that justice has been served.”