By Julietta Bisharyan
SACRAMENTO – After hearing witness testimony at a preliminary hearing, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto late this last week concluded that a defendant charged with sexually molesting and raping his now 12-year-old niece over a seven-year period should face trial.
However, the judge ruled that he would suspend further court proceeding and place defendant Terrance Pritchett in a state hospital, according to a recommendation by a forensic mental health specialist who also recommended Pritchett receive involuntary antipsychotic medication as necessary.
Pritchett is charged with seven counts of sexual abuse. It was also revealed that Pritchett molested other family members.
Deputy District Attorney Quirina Orozco’s sole witness was Detective Gerald Barrett, who was present for the sexual assault safe interview held on Mar. 6, 2020, and was able to listen to what the alleged victim said.
During the interview, the girl said that since she was six years old until this year, her uncle had molested her on many occasions and raped her twice in different locations, including at her residence and at her grandma’s house, where her uncle lived.
The last time he touched her was on Feb. 9, 2020. The incident occurred after she had finished showering. When she stepped out of the shower and reached for her towel, the defendant entered the bathroom and allegedly began to touch her for about three minutes.
When she asked him to stop, he told her, “You don’t have the right to complain about what I’m doing.”
While the alleged victim was in the second grade, she and her sister were sleeping over at their grandmother’s house. The grandmother asked Pritchett to wake them up and to get them ready for breakfast.
The victim said that the defendant told her sister to go downstairs before beginning to touch the victim’s breasts, buttocks and vagina numerous times.
In fourth grade, the victim was at her grandmother’s house watching SpongeBob SquarePants when Pritchett summoned her to come into the garage. There he began to lie on top of her and starting touching her.
The alleged victim recalled feeling “freaked out” and in pain. She also described her uncle as a “buff, imposing man,” calling herself a “midget” by comparison.
Another incident occurred while the victim’s mother was away in Miami. The defendant penetrated her with his fingers. After telling him to stop, Pritchett threatened to hurt her if she told anyone.
According to Detective Barrett, the victim broke down crying while describing the events.
Barrett also spoke with the defendant’s sister, who said that he had sexually assaulted her as well. During an argument between the two siblings, their mother—the alleged victim’s grandmother—told Pritchett to hold her down. There the sister revealed that Pritchett had previously had sex with her and their younger sister.
The sister, however, did not know about her brother and their niece. When speaking with Pritchett, Detective Barrett said that he admitted to sexually assaulting his sister.
After Pritchett removed his mask in the courtroom, Barrett was able to identify him as the defendant.
During cross-examination, Assistant Public Defender Joni O’Conner pointed out that in police reports, the alleged victim originally said that the defendant touched her vagina on the outside of her clothes. She, however, later changed her answer to both over and under her clothes.
Once the witness was dismissed, Judge Acquisto said that he will be holding Pritchett to answer for all seven counts.
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