Northside Houston sports coach sentenced to 35 years for sexually assaulting girls on team, DA says

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Friday, June 9, 2023
Northside coach sentenced to 35 years for assaulting girls on team
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Juan Jose Cruz was found guilty after several young girls on his team came forward with statements on how his actions had impacted their livelihood.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A youth sports coach in Houston's northside has been sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting young girls on his team, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced on Thursday.

The video above is from the initial report in 2018.

Juan Jose Cruz, 56, who also went by "John," was sentenced to 35 years after a guilty plea for two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and was given an additional 20 years for one count of indecency with a child.

Those sentences will run concurrently.

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Cruz's guilty pleas came after several young women on his sports team came forward with victim impact statements.

According to officials, Cruz jumped bail and refused to attend court while free on bond, stemming from his first sexual assault case. After missing court for nearly a year, Cruz returned to the courthouse in 2020.

"This defendant is a true predator. He abused numerous girls in his life who trusted him and whose parents trusted him," Assistant District Attorney Janna Oswald said.

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Oswald, who heads up the DA's Crimes Against Children Division, prosecuted the case with assistant district attorney Edward Applebaum.

"The defendant was good at grooming the community, the parents, and the girls, allowing him to commit these crimes for a long time. The bravery that it took for all of these women and young ladies to disclose their abuse and be ready to testify against their abuser is awe-inspiring. Their statements show their strength and resilience," Oswald said.