A King County judge sentenced convicted rapist Salvador Cruz to 53 years behind bars for sex counts of child rape Friday afternoon. He is the defendant who represented himself in court in a case that sent one of his victims to the roof of the king county courthouse.
"I came here today to witness that pervert rot in prison for the rest of his life. He stole my innocence as a child and the sick demented things he did to me haunt me every day of my life," says victim Brandi Wood.
Wood was only 10 years-old when Salvador Cruz raped and sexually abused her. She is one of seven victims in this case.
"Every act that we can imagine and many we don't want to imagine was committed against these girls. The frequency of the abuse was as often has he could get his hands on them without someone seeing," says King County Prosecutor Val Richey.
A grandmother of three of the victims also spoke.
"I truly hope he spends the rest of his life in prison for what he's done to my girls and the others and probably many other girls in the United States and Mexico," says Cheryl Jackson.
When Cruz himself had a chance to talk, he denied everything, saying the victims in the case should “write a novel or make up stories.”
Judge Douglass North sentenced Cruz to 53 years behind bars. After the proceedings, North sat down with us to talk about the case.
“It was very uncomfortable proceedings. It was probably the most stressing cross examination I've ever had to sit through," says North. “He did himself far more harm than good. I mean the jury was ready to construct the gallows and take care of him themselves by the time they got through with this."
The young woman who testified in court was brave enough to talk with us on camera after the sentencing, and says she is happy with the judge's decision.
“He hurt me very bad and many other girls and just knowing he's locked away and won't have the chance to do this again is comforting," says Wood.
You'll hear much more from Judge North this Sunday on Q13 FOX News at 9:00 and 10:00pm when North talks about how difficult it was to oversee this case. He explains why his hands were tied when it came to intervening as well as what happened behind closed doors the day one of the witnesses nearly took her life.Previous story:
“I heard from so many friends, constituents, citizens and jurors about this case that this really has become an important issue for me, recognizing the need to protect these victims in the courtroom," says Rep. Roger Goodman.
House Bill 1001, written by Rep. Goodman, requires state courts to better protect victims of sexual assault. Under current law, suspects who represent themselves in court can cross-examine their alleged victims face to face.
“I'm hopeful it will prevent victims from experiencing excessive trauma in the courtroom so I hope the committee will support this legislation," says Rep. Goodman.
Under the proposed law, defendants' questions would be asked through a third party after first being screened by the judge, but not everyone in Olympia thinks it's a good idea.
"The legislature does not tell the courts how to make the rules. The court has that authority," says Sen. Adam Kline.
A similar bill drafted last year easily passed the House, but the Senate never got to vote on it. Sen. Kline, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, refused to hold a hearing on the measure he called unconstitutional.
"If Rep. Goodman wants a hearing if the bill comes over, alright it'll have a hearing if we have time on the agenda," says Kline.