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Alpine man sentenced to life in prison in sexual abuse case

He was found guilty in August 2021
Judges gavel
Judges gavel(Source: Pixabay via MGN)
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 10:41 AM CST
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ALPINE, Texas (KOSA) - An Alpine man was sentenced to two life terms in prison on Monday after he was convicted of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor in August of 2021.

According to court documents and evidence at trial, Damion Edward Cruz-Benavente was found guilty by a jury in Pecos in that August 2021 trial of one count of aggravated sexual abuse by force; one count of sexual abuse by threat or fear; and one count of sexual abuse of a minor.

According to a press release for the Department of Justice, the assault happened while Cruz-Benavente was living in Big Bend National Park starting in 2015. The defendant repeatedly sexually assaulted the victim using force and threats, placing the victim in fear. Cruz-Benavente has remained in federal custody since his arrest on March 12, 2021.

U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff discussed the sentence.

“This is a horrific case of child victimization by an evil predator who stole a child’s innocence and has now received a sentence that provides some measure of justice for the brave victim,” Hoff said. “I am grateful for the tireless efforts of our law enforcement partners as we work together to protect our communities.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffery R. Downey says the sentencing should send a message.

“This sentencing should send a strong message to those who sexually harm innocent children in our community,” Downey said. “For years, the defendant in this case committed despicable and heinous acts against the victim and the victim’s siblings. The victim can now have faith that others believed the victim’s cry for help, wanted to help the victim heal and gave the victim the peace of mind to know the defendant will be behind bars for a very long time. Thanks to the exemplary efforts of the National Park Service, Alpine Police Department, the Killeen Police Department, and the dedicated work from our agents who aggressively pursue these heinous criminals, this individual will finally be held accountable for his actions. The FBI is committed to preventing violent crimes against children and to bring those who harm them to justice. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and use every investigative tool to protect the public from these types of horrific crimes.”

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