Petaluma man sentenced to 24 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting 12-year-old girl

A Petaluma man convicted of numerous sexual assault crimes against a child under the age of 14 was sentenced to 24 years to life in prison Thursday.

The sentence, handed down by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Christopher Honigsberg, came after 51-year-old Filemon Hernandez pleaded guilty or no-contest in July to three sexual assault charges. The charges include aggravated sexual assault on a child, attempted aggravated sexual assault of a child and lewd act on a child under 14 years old.

In 2012, the Petaluma Police Department received a report that Hernandez had sexually assaulted the victim multiple times that summer, said Sgt. Paul Gilman. The girl was 12 at the time, according to a news release from the District Attorney’s office.

When police officers responded, Hernandez had fled the area, Gilman said. Officers found his vehicle parked a couple of blocks away from a bus stop but were unable to locate Hernandez and issued a warrant for his arrest.

“There was a huge gap in time when he kind of went off the radar,” Gilman said. “Ultimately, we were able to get him back up here and hold him accountable.”

Hernandez was booked into Sonoma County Jail on Dec. 27, 2016, after another department had located him and transferred him into the custody of the Petaluma Police Department. Details about how Hernandez was apprehended were not available as of press time.

“This brave young survivor was just a child when she was repeatedly abused by this predator throughout the summer of 2012,” said District Attorney Jill Ravitch in the news release. “This sentence reflects the gravity of the crimes committed.”

You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.

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