A Pendergrass man was given a 50-year prison sentence with 30 to serve Wednesday, Oct. 31, in a child molestation case.
Eleazar Mata was convicted of child molestation, statutory rape and second-degree child cruelty. Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller gave Mata a 50-year sentence, with 30 years in custody. The rest can be served on probation.
Addressing Mata during sentencing, Fuller said the Pendergrass man had groomed the victim for the purpose of perpetrating a heinous act.
Mata was acquitted of the most serious charge against him, aggravated child molestation, but convicted on three others in a child molestation case Sept. 27.
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office said in August 2017 Mata allegedly had a sexual relationship with an underage girl for five years between January 2012 and April 2017. The girl was age 13 when the relationship started, Lt. Scott Ware said at the time.
The dates listed in the December indictment fall mostly in 2014 except for the harassing communications charge, in which Mata was accused of texting the girl repeatedly in April 2017. The jury found Mata not guilty on that charge.
Fuller said child abuse cases are “so damaging because the issue for the child is so very complicated,” affecting the psyche at a critical age.
“Leave here at least knowing that the court believed every word you said with no exception,” Fuller said addressing the victim and her family.