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Kern County jury finds man guilty of sexual abuse involving children

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Posted at 12:13 PM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 15:13:25-04

KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KERO) — A Kern County jury finds man guilty Friday of sexual abuse involving children.

Joe Vanwinkle was found guilty of two felony counts of oral copulation of a child 10 years old or younger, and two counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old, according to the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

Vanwinkle committed the crimes against two different children over the span of seven years, according to the DA's Office.

According to court documents, from 2007 to 2014 Vanwinkle committed frequent acts of molestation against the victims while the children were six to 13 years old. The victims reported the abuse to a school counselor who contacted the Kern County Sheriff's Department, said the DA's Office. KCSO found social media messages and DNA evidence during their investigation, according to court documents.

Vanwinkle faces up to 55 years to life in prison at his sentencing which is scheduled for Dec. 1st.

"Children can face undetected abuse at the hands of even their closest family members. When evidence of child abuse is brought to light by counselors, mandatory reporters, or even other family members, law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office are prepared to provide justice for those with the courage and ability to end a cycle of abuse," said Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer.

"Sexual abuse can often persist for years before it is brought to light, and for the perpetrators of continuing sexual abuse of children the law demands severe penalties to account for the seriousness of their crimes and the threat faced by more children if such conduct goes unpunished.”