Former Turlock church volunteer convicted of sexually abusing 3 boys

By Rosalio Ahumada
Modesto Bee
July 7, 2015

A 37-year-old man who volunteered at a Turlock church agreed to a plea deal Monday afternoon that will result in a 28-year prison sentence for sexually abusing three boys.

Eduardo Arellano Sanchez pleaded no contest to committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child younger than 14 and two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped six other felonies in connection with the abuse.

A preliminary hearing for the defendant was scheduled to begin Monday morning. The attorneys, however, worked through the morning to reach a plea deal.

Deputy District Attorney Merrill Hoult told the judge that the evidence would have shown that the defendant molested a body identified as John Doe 1 during a car ride home in Turlock from the Stanislaus County Fair. The boy was 11 years old.

The prosecutor said the abuse was much more extensive with the other two boys, stretching over a few years. Hoult told the judge that the defendant had recurring access to a 12-year-old boy referred to as John Doe 2. The defendant and the third victim lived in the same home when the boy was sexually abused. Court documents indicate he was 13 years old.

When he was arrested in early December 2012, Sanchez worked as a volunteer at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turlock. He volunteered in classes at the church, not at Sacred Heart School. Church officials have said volunteers are never left alone with children in a class; there always is at least one other adult in the room.

Authorities at the time said there was no indication that sexual abuse occurred at the church. Officials, however, notified parishioners of the arrest and asked them to call Turlock police if they had any information about the case.

Sanchez has been in custody at the Stanislaus County jail since his arrest, awaiting prosecution.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff on Monday told the defendant that he will have to serve 20 years and six months on parole upon his release from prison. The judge also ordered Sanchez to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Sanchez’s charges are considered strikes under the state’s “three strikes” law. Zeff told Sanchez if he is convicted of another felony, he could be eligible to face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

The judge scheduled Sanchez to return to court July 30 to be formally sentenced.

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