SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A 24-year-old Anaheim Hills man was convicted Thursday of sexually assaulting a boy, then 13, in a Tustin library bathroom in 2012.
Robert Howard Claudio was convicted of one count of kidnapping for child molesting and four counts of lewd acts with a child younger than 14, all felonies. Jurors also found true sentencing enhancement allegations for substantial sexual conduct with a child and increasing the risk of harm by kidnapping.
Claudio, who is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 8, faces a minimum of 15 years to life in prison.
Jurors began deliberating just after 2 p.m. Wednesday and announced they reached a verdict at 9:45 a.m. this morning.
Claudio approached the victim at the Tustin library on March 9, 2012 while the victim waited for his mother to pick him up, according to Deputy District Attorney Jana Hoffmann. Claudio had the boy go into the library’s bathroom with him where the defendant molested him, Hoffmann said.
The boy ran out of the library to a Tustin police station to report the assault. Meanwhile, Claudio flagged down a police officer to tell him that a boy approached him in the library wanting to engage in sex acts, Hoffmann said.
Claudio initially denied molesting the teen but later insisted the boy initiated everything, Hoffmann said.
Claudio’s attorney, Fred McBride, contested the kidnapping allegation, which elevated the punishment to a potential life sentence, Hoffmann said.
Claudio was also charged last year with trying to sexually assault an 18-year-old man at John Wayne Airport Aug. 27, 2011,
The victim in that case has not been cooperative with investigators, Hoffmann said.
The incident is still under investigation and charges may be refiled later if the victim, who is from the East Coast, wants to pursue it, Hoffmann said.
Claudio was accused of approaching the 18-year-old and following him into a bathroom, Hoffmann said. When the man tried to get away, Claudio tried to pull the man’s underwear down and asked him to engage in oral and anal sex, Hoffmann alleged.
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