A former Coronado firefighter was sentenced Thursday in Kauai County, Hawaii, to 10 years in prison for molesting a girl who thought of him as a grandfather.
Mark Raymond Price, 56, now faces similar charges in San Diego on accusations of prior assaults, in 2013 and 2015, with the same victim at his home in La Mesa.
Dannika, the mother of the now-11-year-old victim, spoke with NBC 7 Friday following the sentencing and shared how troubling the discovery was for her family.
“I immediately broke down. I don't know what to think. I didn't know what to do,” Dannika said. “I think she had a sense of relief yesterday once she knew he was now behind bars.”
Price was married to the young girl's grandmother, and all three were on vacation together in Hawaii when the victim came forward.
According to Dannika, Price would come into the girl's room and touch her while she slept.
“My daughter was sleeping when he did this, but she woke up and pretended to still be sleeping ‘cause she was scared of what he would do to her," Dannika said. “She trusted him. He was a positive figure in her life. He was her Papa Mark."
The little girl told her family the abuse started when she was four years old during trips to visit her grandmother and Price at their La Mesa home.
“She can pinpoint a picture and tell me, 'Oh, me and Papa Mark did this,’ and she can tell me,” Dannika told NBC 7.
When the Kauai deputy attorney's office was made aware of the charge against Price, they notified San Diego officials to conduct their own investigation, which resulted in four charges being filed against Price in San Diego.
Price was arrested by La Mesa police on Dec. 12 and charged with one felony count of sex acts with a child under 10 years old and three felony counts of lewd acts on a child. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Following Thursday’s sentencing, Price must now register as a sex offender.
A City of Coronado spokesperson confirmed to NBC 7 that Price used to be a firefighter at the city's department before retiring in June 2018.
As a government official, Price receives a $5,542 pension each month, a spokesperson for California Public Employees' Retirement System (CALPERS) said.
The pension would only be forfeited if Price was to be convicted of a job-related felony, the spokesperson said.
"I do feel he probably has done this to other people that may have been sleeping and they don't even know, or maybe there is some that do know and have never said anything. I'm not really sure,” Dannika told NBC 7.
The former firefighter has been ordered by a judge to stay away from and end all communications with the victim.
Price is next due in court in San Diego on Tuesday.