An Olivehurst man faces the rest of his life in jail after a Yuba County jury found him guilty of 16 counts of child sex abuse charges on Thursday.
Samuel McConnell, 44, of Olivehurst was charged in Yuba County Superior Court in March with 15 felony counts of unlawful contact with a minor, including oral copulation and sexual penetration, and one felony count of continuous sexual abuse with a child under 14 years old.
Last September, a 16-year-old girl told her parents that McConnell, a family member, began abusing her when she was just six years old and stopped when she was 12. The abuse occurred at an Olivehurst home at least twice a week and so often that “it became a regular thing,” according to court documents. The victim’s parents reported the abuse to police the same day the girl told them.
Around the time of it being reported, McConnell allegedly admitted to the girl’s mother and said he was sorry. He then attempted suicide by allegedly taking medication, driving and intentionally getting into a collision in his vehicle. He was treated at a Roseville hospital for treatment, at which time he was contacted by a detective about the allegations.
When he was released from the hospital, detectives weren’t notified and McConnell fled the state.
The Yuba County District Attorney’s Office led a joint-agency manhunt. Together with the U.S. Marshals Service Kansas Fugitive Apprehension Team and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, McConnell was located and arrested in early June at a relative’s home in Pomona, Kansas. He was extradited from Franklin County Jail to Yuba County Jail later that month, where he has remained.
A jury trial began on Tuesday and concluded on Thursday. The jury deliberated for a little over an hour before returning with their verdict, which was guilty on all counts.
“There was one count for when the victim was 6, 7, and 8 years old, and six counts for when she was 9 and 10 years old. Each of these convictions exposes the defendant to 15-years-to-life in prison. Also, the jury found the defendant guilty of (continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 years old) for the years when the victim was 11 and 12 years old,” said Yuba County Deputy District Attorney Shiloh Sorbello.
During the trial, the victim testified that the sexual molestation stopped when she was 12 years old, sometime after taking sex education in school and learning about appropriate and inappropriate touching. She came forward to her best friend and her parents approximately four years after the abuse had ended, Sorbello said.
Yuba County District Attorney Clint Curry said he was proud of the hard-working staff that helped see the case through.
“Chief Investigator Stephanie Johnson and Investigator James Perin went above and beyond to complete the investigation, track McConnell down, and arrange for his apprehension in Kansas by the U.S. Marshals,” Curry said. “I am thankful for Chief DDA Shiloh Sorbello’s steady hand in getting this case to trial in under six months. I look forward to sentencing and bringing some closure for the young woman who endured so much.”
McConnell faces a total of 241-years-to-life in prison for the charges. He will return to Yuba County Superior Court on Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. for sentencing.