A man convicted of sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl in a unique jury trial utilizing social distancing in the closed-to-the-public Central Justice Center in Santa Ana is facing 50 years to life in prison.
Arthur William Robert Callender, 23, of Buena Park, was found guilty Wednesday of two felony counts of sexual intercourse with a child younger than 10, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
Callendar is scheduled to be sentenced June 12 at the Central Justice Center, where court officials finished a trial that began before the courthouse was closed due to the coronavirus emergency last month.
He was arrested in October 2016 after officers with the Department of Homeland Security investigated "several inappropriate internet postings involving a female toddler," according to a news release from the District Attorney's Office.
The courthouse remains closed to the public, but Orange County Superior Court Judge Andre Manssourian ruled that because of the nature of the allegations and the proceedings were already in their later stages, the trial could continue under an exemption in a state Supreme Court order suspending jury trials for 60 days that was handed down on March 23.
The jury with two alternates returned to the courthouse on Wednesday to hear closing arguments and then took about an hour to reach verdicts. The jurors were spread out through the courtroom to keep people 6 feet apart, and many of those in the courtroom wore masks, prosecutors said.
The jurors deliberated in a separate courtroom so they could keep 6 feet apart.
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"The Orange County District Attorney's Office is incredibly grateful to the jurors for their commitment to the criminal justice system," Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said. "Despite the challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, these men and women came to court, considered the evidence, and returned a verdict that will keep this monster behind bars for decades. Their selflessness will prevent him from victimizing other children."