Alpine resident sentenced to life in prison for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor | USAO-WDTX
ALPIN – An Alpin was sentenced yesterday to two life sentences for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor.
According to court documents and trial evidence, 30-year-old Damion Edward Cruz-Benavente was found guilty by a jury in Pecos in August 2021 of one count of forcibly aggravated sexual abuse; one count of sexual abuse by threat or fear; and one count of child sexual abuse. While living in Big Bend National Park from 2015, the accused repeatedly sexually assaulted the victim using force and threats, causing the victim to become frightened.
The accused has remained in federal custody since his arrest on March 12, 2021.
“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 offers some measure of justice for the brave victim,” said US Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “I am grateful for the tireless efforts of our law enforcement partners as we work together to protect our communities.”
“This sentencing should send a strong message to those who sexually assault innocent children in our community,” said Jeffrey R. Downey, FBI Special Agent in Charge. “For years, the defendant in this case has committed despicable and heinous acts against the victim and the victim’s siblings. The victim can now trust that others believed their call for help, wanted to help the victim heal, and gave the victim the peace of mind that the accused will be behind bars for a very long time. Thanks to the exemplary efforts of the National Park Service, the Alpine Police Department, the Killeen Police Department and the dedicated work of our officers 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 bringing those who harm them to justice. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and use all investigative tools to protect the public from these types of horrific crimes. »
The FBI and the National Park Service, with assistance from the Killeen Police Department and the Alps Police Department, investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lance Kennedy and Tracy Thompson prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to address the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood brings together federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children through the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about the Safe Childhood Project, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.