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Rohnert Park man held on $21 million bail in child sex abuse case

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A Rohnert Park man accused of molesting two girls over the course of several years is being held at the Sonoma County Jail on $21 million bail, roughly eight years after one of the victims first told police about the abuse.

Martin Keith DeWitt, 55, faces four felony counts of oral copulation with a child, 17 felony counts of child molestation and two felony counts of dissuading the victims from reporting the crimes to police, according to court records. Each molestation charge carries an enhancement that would add more time to DeWitt’s sentence if he is found guilty.

DeWitt pleaded not guilty to the charges last month and will appear Tuesday in Sonoma County Superior Court to schedule a preliminary hearing where a judge will decide whether prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed with a trial, said Deputy Public Defender Vishad Dewan, who is representing DeWitt.

The sexual assaults allegedly spanned from 2007 to July 2011 and took place at DeWitt’s home in Rohnert Park, located in the A Section of town, according to Rohnert Park police and court documents.

Officers first learned of the alleged abuse in 2011, when a 10-year-old girl reported she and her stepsister, 11, had been sexually assaulted by DeWitt, their mother’s boyfriend at the time, said Aaron Johnson, deputy chief of the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety.

Dewitt was questioned by police but denied the allegations, Johnson said. The case was at a standstill without an admission from DeWitt or additional evidence, Johnson said.

“Based on the interviews with them and no evidence at that time, it was agreed that the case would be suspended,” Johnson said.

The 10-year-old girl, who was also living with DeWitt at the time, moved in with her grandparents soon after, Johnson said. Neither Johnson nor Astley could say whether the other child also lived in the home at the time of the alleged assaults, though Johnson said she too left the home.

Eight years later, in July, the case gained traction when the girl who initially reported the crime reached out again to police, asking if more could be done, Johnson said.

“She said, ‘I want to know what we can do because this is wrong. This has affected me and I’m an adult now,’ ” Johnson said of the woman.

Officers reopened the case and arranged a series of calls between the woman and DeWitt. In early August, DeWitt allegedly admitted to some of the abuse, Rohnert Park Sgt. Keith Astley said.

DeWitt’s statements, paired with police interviews with both victims, were enough for police to get an arrest warrant, Astley said. Officers with the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety arrested DeWitt on Aug. 28 after they pulled him over near his home, Johnson said.

Dewan declined to discuss any of the evidence in the case and defended his client’s right to a presumption of innocence.

“The most important thing is that an individual is presumed innocent until they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Dewan said. “I expect everybody in the community respect that.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com.

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