Centerfield man charged with sexual abuse felonies
MANTI — A Centerfield man stands accused of inappropriately touching his 16 year old niece a number of times between 2008 and 2014.
Fortino Villanueva, 49, was charged with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, each a first-degree felony and one count of kidnapping, also a first-degree felony. While the first three counts are alleged to have occurred between 2008 and 2014, the kidnapping charge is alleged to have taken place on June 13 of this year.
Villanueva appeared in Manti District Court on June 21 with his attorney, Justin Bond. Judge Anthony Howell set Villanueva’s bond at $80,000 and set his next court date for July 5 at 10:00 a
According to the probable cause statement, police found out about these allegations when Villanueva’s niece and her mother came to the Gunnison Police Station on June 15 to tell her story. His niece told the police that her uncle, Villanueva, dropped her and her 1-year-old sister off at her family trailer after running errands. Villanueva followed the two girls into the trailer, and cornered his niece in the kitchen, saying that she had “gained weight” and attempted to pick her up. Although his niece tried to get away from him, Villanueva grabbed his niece by the wrist and pulled her up against him. He told her that she was “very grown up” and kissed the back of her neck while he was groping her chest.
As she continued her interview, the niece told the police that her family used to live with Villanueva’s family in Centerfield. From 2008 to 2014 she described many occasions where Villanueva would put his hand inside her shirt to grab her chest, when no other family members were around. She did not tell anyone about the abuse at that time, and it stopped when her family moved to Idaho. But when Villanueva touched her again, she was afraid the abuse would start again and she told her mother.
During questioning after his arrest on June 15, Villanueva admitted to grabbing his niece’s wrist and picking her up, but denied trying to kiss her. Villanueva stated that his niece’s mother “was out to get him.”
Because of Villanueva’s “position of special trust” as her uncle, under Utah law he was charged with first-degree felonies.