gavel.jpgA San Francisco man convicted of molesting several children between 1989 and 2007 was sentenced today to 29 years to life in prison, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Julius Lewis, 50, came under suspicion in August 2007 when a 6-year-old girl told a nurse that he was sexually assaulting her. The girl visited Lewis’ home because she was a friend of his daughter, and her foster mother was acquainted with Lewis, prosecutors said.

During the investigation, San Francisco police Inspector Alexis Goldner discovered that Lewis had sexually abused his stepdaughter, Teresa, in the late 1980s in Texas and in San Francisco.

Teresa told police that Lewis had sexual intercourse with her at least once a week while they lived in San Francisco, including on Oct. 17, 1989, the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake. She was 11 years old at the time.

In a victim impact statement presented at today’s sentencing, Teresa said that the assaults “took every childhood dream I had growing up.”

This morning, Teresa spoke publicly about the case for the first time and said that the main purpose of her coming forward–to make Lewis pay for his crimes–has been achieved.

“Justice has been finally served,” Teresa, now 33, said at a news conference at the district attorney’s office.

“This trial and verdict is now giving me the voice I need to grow better for not only myself, but for my children,” she wrote in the impact statement.

The investigation revealed at least seven victims had been sexually assaulted by Lewis, including Teresa’s stepsister and two other women who were Teresa’s childhood friends, according to the district attorney’s office.

Goldner, who has served in the special victims unit for more than 17 years, said at a news conference this morning, “It was a very sad and emotional case because of the many victims who surfaced.”

District Attorney George Gascon credited the conviction to the dedication of several agencies but said that it would not have been possible had the 6-year-old girl not courageously reported the molestation.

“She went through a tremendous amount of aggravation and pain and suffering,” Gascon said.

Police also discovered a prior conviction from Texas for indecency with a child. The court allowed three of the prior victims to testify, and prosecutors introduced the former conviction as evidence of Lewis’ alleged propensity to commit similar crimes.

On Sept. 8, a jury found Lewis guilty of five counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 after five hours of deliberation, bringing the five-week trial to a close.

Gascon said that adults should be mindful about the behavior of young children, especially if they visit other peoples’ homes.

“The defendant preyed upon innocent children and stole their childhood,” Gascon said.

“There’s a trail of victims that probably did not need to be there.”

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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