Relatives of a sexual molestation victim describe the victim as a once happy and outgoing girl who now, years later, blames herself for the abuse and no longer draws pictures of rainbows.
The child's mother and maternal grandparents addressed a San Diego judge Tuesday moments before he sentenced the man responsible for the abuse - former special education teacher Loren McDonald.
The girl was 3-years-old when she was molested for more than a year in secret, family members said.
As a result, the now-5-year-old girl started showing personality changes that ranged from screaming tantrums to behavioral problems in school.
“She blames herself,” the victim’s mother said.
The former teacher at Olympian High School in Chula Vista was arrested in May and pleaded guilty to seven separate counts of committing a sex act on a child. His victim was not a student at the school.
The child's grandfather described a little girl who preferred to hide under bushes rather than play in the park.
“Her drawings showed sad people, clouds and rain. No rainbows,” he told the court.
In public, McDonald appeared to be a model citizen who was a natural with children.
“He was really charming, seemingly kind and thoughtful loves to work with children,” the victim’s grandmother said. “When young families got together on our block, everybody loved it because Loren is going to play with the kids. We were all blindsided.”
But in private, the child’s grandmother said, McDonald read books to the little girl on how to recognize inappropriate touching while he was molesting her.
“How twisted and sick,” she said. “We were all totally blindsided.”
Judge Timothy Walsh sentenced McDonald to 18 years in prison.
The child’s mother asked that McDonald not be released in the same county after time served.
“I really hope this case sets precedent and tells other young victims that they have a voice and mothers of sexually abused children that they are supported by the criminal justice system and ultimately truth will prevail and justice will be served,” the mother said.
The victim’s grandparents wanted to go on the record about the abuser’s ability to disarm others.
"Please don’t let him blindside you on the day he comes up for parole,” the grandmother said. “Please be careful with this man. He’s very dangerous.”
On May 6, McDonald was arrested at his workplace on multiple charges. The school immediately placed McDonald on leave.