ATLANTA — When a 15-year-old boy arrived at a Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta location with a stomach ache two years ago, his family likely didn’t expect it was tied to molestation.
The victim told his sister about his sexual abuse in December 2016 after he was admitted to CHOA for “debilitating stomach pain,” the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Friday.
She encouraged him to tell their parents.
Within the past week, a judge sentenced Fernando Deon Valentine to 30 years with life on parole following his aggravated child molestation conviction.
“The victim is scarred for life as a result of your actions,” Superior Court Judge William H. “Beau” McClain said in court.
Valentine began abusing the boy in April 2016, according to Douglas County District Attorney Ryan Leonard.
The boy purchased pepper spray to protect himself, but he started developing stomach pains. CHOA personnel testified that stomach pains in children were often related to anxiety over stress in a child’s life.
The victim’s stomach pain eventually led detectives to two other victims, including the boy’s sister. The victims, who are now women, testified that Valentine abused them when they were younger.
The man’s relationship to the victims was not released.
“It takes a great amount of courage for a teenager to testify about sexual abuse in a courtroom full of strangers,” Assistant District Attorney Sam Newman said in a statement. “(Valentine) has been stopped as a result of the bravery of these witnesses.”
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