December 16, 2008

Andres Enrique Cantu faces second charge after Santa list brings sexual abuse to light

December 16, 2008

By Jared Taylor, The Monitor

PHARR, TX -- A little girl's wish to Santa may have ended years of sexual abuse at the hands of an adult relative.

Andres Enrique Cantu, 55, was charged with a second count of continuous sexual abuse against a young child Tuesday.

The alleged years of sexual abuse by Cantu may not have come to light were it not for a 9-year-old girl's wish list to Santa as part of a class project.

Once the girl's teacher read the letter Thursday, she contacted Pharr police, which opened an investigation into the allegations against Cantu.

The first sexual abuse charge came Friday, after Cantu was arrested at Lamar Academy alternative school in McAllen, where he worked as a computer lab technician.

The 9-year-old wrote in the wish list for Cantu to "stop touching her and her sister," according to the criminal complaint in the case.

Police said Cantu had improperly touched the 9-year-old under her clothes several times since August 2004.

The charges brought Tuesday allege that Cantu also improperly touched the 10-year-old sister under her clothes several times since January, according to the criminal complaint.

The 10-year-old girl told investigators that Cantu touched her while she worked on her homework in her bedroom. She did not remember how long the incidents had been occurring, only that she was in a different grade in school when they began, the complaint reads.

It is The Monitor's policy to not identify victims of sexual abuse.

The lanky Cantu stood handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit Tuesday afternoon in Pharr Municipal Court.

Judge Rudy Martinez set Cantu's bond at $250,000 for the latest charge of continual sexual abuse against a child. If he is convicted, Cantu would be sentenced to between 50 and 198 years in prison for the two charges.

Cantu has worked for the McAllen school district for 11 years and has been placed on administrative leave, district spokesman Mark May said.

The charges Cantu faces were passed by the Texas Legislature last year as part of "Jessica's Law," which increased penalties against sexual predators.

"We see stuff like this almost every day," said Lt. Guadalupe Salinas, a Pharr police spokesman. "It's sad because of the time of the year, but usually a lot of outcries come through teachers."

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