Couple arrested after dark

A Santa Clarita, California couple spent April 4 in court over allegations that they invited children to sleepovers and molested at least eight of them over the past 10 years.

Authorities arrested parents Jacqueline Wadsworth, 32, and Francisco Avendano, 42, on March 31 after officers suspected they were responsible for the abuse of two children under the age of 14, the Daily Mail reports.

A 12-year-old boy reportedly told his mother about the abuse, who then alerted the police and launched an investigation.
Since then, police have believed at least six other victims were involved and are urging others to come forward.

“Once our detectives started investigating the case, it was like peeling an onion,” said Sergeant Brian Hudson, reports KTTV.
“It’s a horrific case, and as such, we’re concerned that there might be other kids out there just based on the type and number of kids that have been involved so far,” Hudson added, reports KABC.
Officials believe the couple have molested multiple children, ranging in age from 3 to 17, for at least a decade.
“[Avendano] would make friends with neighborhood kids and family members’ friends and then sexually assault them,” Hudson said.
“Often they would threaten the children, ‘If you say something, I will harm you, I will harm your family,'” he added.
Neighbors are shocked by the allegations.

“It’s gross,” said neighbor Heather Carias. “It turns my stomach.”
“I’m really floored that I didn’t know anything and really didn’t suspect anything,” she added.
Both Wadsworth and Avendano have pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent assault on children. They are both in prison; Avendano’s bail is just over $2 million, while Wadsworth’s bail is set at $200,000. Couple arrested after dark

James Brien

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