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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:  Aug. 7, 2015



Freeway Jumper Convicted of Child Molestation sentenced to 158 years and 8 months to life in state prison



Daniel Bernal (Booking Photo)


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A child molestation suspect who led police on a high-speed pursuit that ended with him trying to jump off a freeway overpass in Ontario was sentenced to 158 years and 8 months to life in state prison today, for molesting his three nieces.

“The victims expressed to me they are very happy with the verdict and the sentence,” Deputy District Attorney David Foy said. “This case really tore the family apart. I’m glad this case is over for them, but I’m sure they will carry the emotional scars from the abuse for the rest of their lives.”

A jury convicted Daniel Cortez Bernal, 56, of Hesperia, of 12 felony counts June 15 in Victorville Superior Court, ending a four-year legal battle that involved three child sex victims in Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Bernal was found guilty of two counts of forcible oral copulation and seven counts of lewd act with a child for attacks on one niece; one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child in connection with another niece, and one count of lewd act with a child for fondling a third niece. He was also found guilty of felony evading police.

According to testimony during a seven-day jury trial, Bernal sexually assaulted one niece two to three times a week from 2002 to 2007, when she was ages 6 to 11, while she lived with him in Garden Grove. The family moved to Hesperia in 2007, and the sexual assaults continued on her until she was 13, in 2009, she testified.

The victim told school authorities about the molestations on May 10, 2011, prompting an investigation by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies. When a patrol deputy tried to stop Bernal’s SUV as it headed south on U.S. 395 in Hesperia, Bernal caught the I-15 through the Cajon pass and ran a vehicle off the road during the high-speed pursuit, according to trial testimony by Sgt. Jerry Davenport.

Bernal got as far as the I-10 overpass in Ontario, where he was apprehended by another sheriff’s deputy as he tried to jump off. Bernal later confessed that he orally copulated the niece. After the arrest, two other victims came forward to disclose molestations that occurred in Orange County.


Contacts: Christopher Lee, Public Affairs Officer (909) 382-3665

 

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It is the mission of the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to represent the interests of the people in the criminal justice system, as mandated by California State law. The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office serves the residents of San Bernardino County by: seeking the truth, protecting the innocent; holding the guilty accountable; preserving the dignity of victims and their families; and, ensuring that justice is done while always maintaining the highest ethical standards.

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