Atascadero man sentenced to 15 years for child molestation

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comDecember 23, 2013 

An Atascadero man was recently sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for repeatedly molesting a local pair of sisters over several years.

Miguel Angel Zuranich, 45, had pleaded no contest in September to four different felony child molestation charges. In San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Friday, Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt sought a sentence of 21 years to life in prison. Judge John Trice sentenced Zuranich to 15 years to life.

According to a pre-sentencing report from the county probation department, Zuranich is a native of Peru, where he studied communications and journalism at a junior college. Zuranich, who was employed as an office cleaner at the time of his arrest, had lived in San Luis Obispo County the past 15 years.

According to the report, the following occurred: Zuranich knew the sisters, now 22 and 14. He began molesting each girl when they were roughly 7 years old. The older girl said she was molested until she was 12 while the younger girl said she was molested until she was 9.

The abuse occurred both at the defendant’s home and the victims’ residence. Zuranich told the girls they would disrupt their families and anger their mother if they told what he had done.

Because of the abuse, the older girl’s grades suffered, she didn’t like being with other people, and she began drinking alcohol.

“I just wanted to be left alone in the dark,” she said in the report.

She said she had been molested between 50 and 80 times.

When she was older, she noticed her sister’s demeanor began to change, becoming progressively angrier. Around New Year’s 2013, the younger sister told her older sister she had been molested by Zuranich about 30 times. The girls told their parents, and the Atascadero Police Department became involved.

While at the Atascadero Police Department, the older sister called Zuranich and asked why he molested her. He said he was sick and apologized.

“I’m in a six-step treatment program,” he said, according to the probation report. “I can’t run like a coward; I want to face what I did. What I did was bad. I can go to jail, but I’m OK with it.”

In his interview with the Atascadero Police Department, Zuranich said he was molested when he was 7 years old by a male juvenile who helped care for him and his siblings in Peru. He admitted to molesting the two girls.

Zuranich has a wife and four children of his own, aged 3 to 14.

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