Santa Maria man facing life in prison for raping little girls

Manuel Ruiz Rios

A Santa Barbara County jury convicted a Santa Maria man of committing numerous acts of molestation, including sexual intercourse, with two young girls. Manuel Ruiz Rios, 34, now faces life in prison, according to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

Rios abused the victims multiple times over a three-year period. The molestation began when the children were as young as three years old.

The jury convicted Rios of one count of a forcible lewd act with a child, six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, four counts of oral copulation and sexual penetration of a child under 10 and two counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10. Following the announcement of the verdict, District Attorney Joyce Dudley released a statement praising the victims, who testified in the case.

“These two child victims were extraordinarily brave and articulate,” Dudley said. “As a result of their testimony, this defendant will never be able to hurt another child. Cases like this require exemplary investigation, which was done in this case by Detective Jose De Leija of the Santa Maria Police Department. Finally, Deputy District Attorney Chrystal Joseph’s careful, zealous and compassionate prosecution made it possible for these two young girls to speak the truth.”

Rios is scheduled to be sentenced on June 27 in Santa Barbara Superior Court.