FLORENCE, AZ - On Monday, Gabriel Soza received the maximum sentence of 27 years in prison and two consecutive lifetime terms of probation after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting his step-daughter.
Soza claims he was instructed through spiritual prompting to sexually abuse the minor to end her sexual behavior with boys and prevent her from getting pregnant at a young age, according to a Pinal County Attorney's Office report.
A family member discovered the acts of sexual abuse after reading the victim's journal, where she wrote of the incidents.
Police interviewed Soza in March 2012 after speaking with the victim.
At first, he was hesitant to speak with investigators about the incidents because he believed them to be a spiritual matter, according to the report.
Eventually, he explained his purpose behind the sexual assault.
On May 3, 2013, Soza plead guilty to one class two felony count of sexual conduct with a minor and two class three felony counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor.
"Soza disgracefully manipulated religion and attempted to deflect his own responsibility by blaming his action on some higher power of influence," said Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles.