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Santa Rosa man offered plea deal in sex abuse case

Prosecutors on Tuesday offered a plea bargain of a 16-year prison sentence to a former assistant director of a Sebastopol youth summer camp charged with sex crimes against a 5-year-old girl.

Dylan Joshua Zara, 28, of Santa Rosa, has until Friday to accept the deal, which would require him to plead guilty to a single count of recurring sexual contact with a child who was residing in his home.

The remaining charges — two counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10, oral copulation and possession of child pornography — would be dismissed under the agreement. He faces a potential life prison sentence if convicted of all the charges.

"The count we are offering encompasses the acts that were alleged," prosecutor Tania Partida said.

It was unclear Tuesday whether Zara would take the deal.

"I love my son," said Zara's mother, Leslie Benjamin, who attended the settlement hearing with her husband, Michael Benjamin.

"We hate the sin but we love the sinner," the step-father said as the couple left court.

Zara has been in custody since his arrest July 22. FBI investigators allegedly tracked pornographic images to his email address. He lives with his wife and two step-daughters.

He's accused of crimes beginning in February 2010 when the child was five.

Zara was the assistant director of Sun Camp, run by the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center. He had been a computer technician at Twin Hills Middle School, also in Sebastopol.

He is not charged with crimes related to his employment.


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