A Wadsworth man was found guilty Wednesday of molesting a woman with Down syndrome while he served as her supervisor at Lambs Farm in Green Oaks.
Hector Picaso, 62, of the 13000 block of Douglas Court, can be sentenced to up to 37 years in prison for molesting the then-36-year-old victim on four occasions between Feb. 2 and May 24, 2012.
It took the jury of five men and seven women about three hours to convict Picaso on all counts. Lake County Judge James Booras immediately revoked Picaso's bond and he was taken into custody.
"It was important that, despite her challenges, the jury heard the truth of what happened from the victim herself," Assistant State's Attorney Fred Day said outside the courtroom after the verdict. The victim testified during the second day of the trial.
The victim, who was present throughout the three-day trial, smiled widely when the jury found Picaso guilty. Picaso showed no reaction to the verdict.
The assault came only months after the victim had moved into and began working at the assisted living quarters at Lambs Farm, Assistant State's Attorney Tim Niehus said during closing arguments Wednesday.
"(Lambs Farm) was a safe place for her to be, it was a safe place for her to live, it was a safe place for her to work," Niehus said. "But, it was turned into a nightmare by Hector Picaso."
Niehus said the victim was assigned to work with the cleaning crew supervised by Picaso, who intentionally preyed on her because she had not yet ingrained herself into the culture of Lambs Farm.
During a four-month period, Picaso sexually abused the victim on four occasions, including assaults in a public washroom and in her apartment, Niehus said.
The victim didn't stop the attack or protest it because she feared she would be told to leave the complex and lose her job, Niehus said.
Picaso tried to assault her on two later occasions, but she refused, Niehus said. After the second refusal, Picaso quit Lambs Farm without warning "because he knew he was in trouble," Niehus said.
After Picaso quit, the victim told supervisors about the attack, which led to him being charged in August with two counts of criminal sexual assault and four counts of criminal sexual abuse, Niehus said.
"The whole purpose of a trial is to do justice," he told the jury. "So I ask you to strip him of his innocence and find him guilty."
Defense attorney Douglas Grimes argued the victim was coached when she testified during the trial. In addition, Grimes said, Picaso is a 62-year-old diabetic who lacked the sex drive to assault the victim.
"Look at the evidence of the case," Grimes told the jury. "You will not be releasing a sexual predator back into the world, you'll be setting free a decent, religious, little old man."
Picaso is due back to court July 2 for sentencing.