Gustodio Arellano was referred to by Cobb County Superior Court Judge Ann Harris as “an opportunistic predator with a dark soul.” Arellano, a 65-year-old man from Marietta, was convicted on nine counts of child molestation involving four young girls. He has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.
According to investigations, between the years of 2004 and 2012, Arellano repeatedly molested four different girls in the Lake Allatoona area. All of the victims were under five years old when the abuse started and around ten years old when it ended.
Cobb Assistant District Attorney Courtney Veal said in reference to the conviction, “We're glad that the jury returned a verdict that reflected the truth regarding the years of sexual abuse the victims suffered at the hands of the defendant. This sentence ensures that he will never have another opportunity to prey on an innocent child.”
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will explain the law behind the criminal offense of child molestation in Georgia.
Child Molestation in Georgia
The Georgia Code defines child molestation in Georgia as:
A person commits the offense of child molestation when the person either:
- Does any immoral or indecent act to or in the presence of or with any child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person; or
- By means of an electronic device, transmits images of a person engaging in, inducing, or otherwise participating in any immoral or indecent act to a child under the age of 16 years with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or the person. O.C.G.A. § 16-6-4(a).
In order to be convicted of child molestation, the prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This must involve a demonstration through evidence that an immoral or indecent act was committed and the child was under the age of 16.
Child molestation is classified as a felony in Georgia. For a first conviction of child molestation, the penalty can include up to five to twenty years in prison. Also, the Department of Corrections will provide counseling to the defendant.
For a subsequent conviction of child molestation, the penalty increases to imprisonment between ten and thirty years or life in prison.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, it is important for me to mention that although Arellano was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law - not everyone who is accused of committing a criminal offense in Georgia is guilty of committing that particular crime.
As with most sex crimes in Georgia, if you are convicted child molestation in Georgia, you will be required to register as a sex offender. This is not intended to be a punishment or a sentence but instead a regulatory mechanism resulting from the conviction of certain crimes.