Their young victims were scared, say police, but now they’re coming forward

Crime

TULARE, California (KGPE) – Two California correctional officers are behind bars after allegations of child molestation dating back to the 1990s.

The Tulare Police Department said 48-year-old Steven Arey and 56-year-old Kevin Sandoval both worked for the North Kern State Prison and were youth pastors the time of the crime. The victims are male and female, ranging from 8 to 17 years old.

“All these years and they never talked about it,” said Hinojosa. “They felt like it was embarrassing.”

Hinojosa said Arey molested an 8 to 9-year-old child multiple times while Arey was a youth pastor at a church in Visalia. The church is no longer operating.

Hinojosa said since the one victim has come forward, other people have also come forward saying Arey molested them as well.

“They just don’t say anything because they are scared,” said Hinojosa. “We feel bad for them and we will know that. We will speak on their behalf at this point.”

Arey faces 15 counts of child molestation.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Arey has been placed on administrative leave at Sierra Conservation Center where he currently works.

Tulare Police also arrested retired correctional officer Kevin Sandoval. The 56-year-old is facing five counts of molestation. It is alleged that the crimes also took place at the same church in Visalia at around the same time.

CDCR said Sandoval worked at the North Kern State Prison from 1993-2003 before working at the Folsom State Prison where he retired in 2013.

Hinojosa said the two knew each other but it is unclear right now in the investigation if they knew the alleged sex crimes the other committed.

“Anytime it involves law enforcement it is concerning,” said Hinojosa. “It is embarrassing at times.”

Investigators believe there are more victims and ask anyone with information to come forward.

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