Eagle County man, 30, gets 16 years for sexually assaulting an 11-year old girl | VailDaily.com

Eagle County man, 30, gets 16 years for sexually assaulting an 11-year old girl

Jose Guzman, 30, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting an 11-year old girl. After he is released from prison, he will likely be deported to his native El Salvador.

EAGLE — A 30-year-old Eagle County man will spend 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl.

Family members say Jose Hernan Delcid Guzman had a tough life before leaving El Salvador for the U.S. That's tragic, but not particularly relevant, said District Court Judge Russell Granger. What is relevant is that Guzman knew what he was doing was wrong, Granger said.

"A 30-year-old man has sexually assaulted an 11-year-old child. That's a fact, and that's not something the court can tolerate," Granger said in passing sentence.

In a pre-sentence evaluation, Guzman said his offense would be legal in his native El Salvador. He also said he thought the girl was 16 or 17-years-old.

Guzman pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a child. When he finishes his prison sentence, he will likely be deported, according to court testimony during a Monday, April 9, hearing.

Whether Guzman was in the country legally could not be confirmed Monday through the courts or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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Asking for the max

Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan asked for the maximum 16-year sentence, and got it.

The victim's parents made written statements to the court. "I want him to go to prison so he can realize the harm he caused my family," their statements read. "I asked him for an explanation. He said, 'Sorry.' That is not enough. This incident has affected our entire family in every way possible."

Guzman and the victim lived in the same Roaring Fork Valley home for some time.

"He is a predator of young children. It was almost a position of trust and he took advantage of it," Kirwan said.

As Guzman's defense attorney began speaking, the victim's mother began to cry and left the courtroom, accompanied by a victims advocate from the District Attorney's Office.

Guzman's hands and feet were shackled as he sat at the defendant's table.

Brutal upbringing

Guzman's childhood was brutal, said his sister who spoke on his behalf.

He is the fourth of nine siblings in a dysfunctional family, raised by a "ruthless" stepfather, "punishments … with no mercy at all, at least three times a day."

He had to collect firewood to sell, to buy one meal a day for his siblings, she said.

He lived in a shack with a thatched roof. The family slept in beds made of rope, while water flowed through the floor from the alley outside.

When Guzman turned 14, he learned that the man was his stepfather, not his real father, she said.

"As a teenager, it was very difficult to overcome all that, and to see the mistreatment his mother suffered along with him," she said.

Through all that, he tried to become the best person he could be, she said.

"His childhood was very sad and very painful," she said.

"In all those years, he never had any trouble with any other person, let alone with the law," she said. "I understand the serious mistake he made. I know that it has a consequence he cannot escape."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.