ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — A Buena Park man was sentenced Friday to the maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison for the 2016 sexual assault of a 2-year-old girl he babysat, and for later posting pictures of the assault online, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Arthur William Robert Callender, 24, was convicted on April 1 of two felony counts of sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 10, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court suspended jury trials on March 23 for 60 days, Callender’s trial and subsequent sentencing moved forward because of the serious nature of the crimes and advanced stage of the trial, KTLA reported.
“This case is a testament to the dedication of the Court and the public to the rule of law by refusing to allow a global pandemic to interfere with the imposition of justice,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “The bravery displayed by the jurors to continue to show up to court in the very early stages of the pandemic and the many unknowns speaks to their commitment to holding this monster accountable and ensuring he will no longer be able to victimize children.”
Closing arguments were allowed to be given in front of the jury on April 1. Jurors were spread out through the entire courtroom to adhere to social distancing rules, instead of being restricted to the jury box, officials said.
Jurors were then taken to a separate courtroom to deliberate where social distancing measures were also enforced, and an hour after deliberations began the jury returned a guilty verdict on both felony counts, according to KTLA.
Callender’s arrest was made in October 2016 following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which looked into several inappropriate internet postings that surfaced involving the toddler.
The relationship between Callender and the toddler and/or the parent(s) was not disclosed.