Balboa Park street performer sentenced to 7 years for sexually assaulting teens

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SAN DIEGO — A street performer who sexually assaulted two underage girls on separate occasions while working in Balboa Park was sentenced Thursday to seven years in state prison.

Luis Haaz-Martinez, 22, pleaded guilty in October to one count each of statutory rape, sexual penetration with a foreign object of a minor, and oral copulation of a minor under 16. He will be deported to Mexico upon his release from prison and required to register as a sex offender for life.

The girls, ages 14 and 17 at the time, were sexually assaulted on April 20 and April 28 of this year.

San Diego police arrested the defendant, who worked as a street performer and dancer in and around the park, on May 3.

According to a police statement, Haaz-Martinez “would approach youthful appearing females in the area of Balboa Park after performing and convince them to walk with him to isolated areas.” He would then assault the victims “once secluded,” police said.

Jane Doe 1, who just recently turned 15, said she’s “never felt so lost” as she does now. “The saddest thing is it’s not only me, it’s someone else too,” she said, referring to Jane Doe 2, who did not appear for the sentencing hearing.

Jane Doe 1’s mother said that despite the pain inflicted upon her family, she was glad that “violence perpetrated upon women is finally being recognized as the crime against humanity that it is.”

She also challenged the defendant to use his dance talents for something positive in the future and to ask himself upon his release, “Do I want to go back to prison or do I want to change?”

Jane Doe 2’s mother said her daughter is “very vulnerable now” and though she felt God would want her to forgive him, she couldn’t.

Haaz-Martinez addressed the court, saying he was “truly ashamed (for) everything that happened” and has been suffering from nightmares over what happened.

Referring to the assaults, he said “I didn’t know what I was doing.”

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