Rowena Manuela Klinker was sentenced Thursday, January 19, 2012 to a total of 40 years in prison for sexually abusing a child that was good friends with her own children. The 49-year old Houston woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison on each of two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child after pleading guilty to the indictments. Klinker was eligible for probation.
Evidence presented by prosecutors assigned to the Child Abuse Division of the District Attorney’s Office revealed that Klinker had repeatedly sexually abused the young girl that was close friends with the defendant’s own children in 2007. Klinker groomed the child victim by buying her items, taking her places, and supplying her with a cellular phone so that Klinker could communicate with her. The defendant had contact with the victim approximately four times per week over the course of two years.
Lead prosecutor Zahra Jivani Fenelon says that majority of times child victims do not tell right away when they have been sexually abused by someone they know, and when they do tell, they may not reveal all of the abuse at first. “This is especially true when a child victim has been groomed by the defendant and made to believe that the abuse is in fact a normal relationship. Therefore, counseling for all victims of sexual abuse, whether they are children or adults, is extremely important to help them heal and understand that what happened is not their fault,” says Fenelon.
Fenelon had praise for the child victim, “This young lady endured continual sexual abuse by someone she should have been able to trust. She is a wonderful girl who has a lot to be proud of. It took great courage to come forward and face her abuser. Because she was able to stand up for herself by telling what happened to her, she stood up for all child victims as well.”
“Most of the crimes prosecuted in our Child Abuse Division occur between victims and perpetrators who know each other,” said Assistant District Attorney Natalie Sarfin. “Often they are relatives, friends, or neighbors. The crimes Klinker committed are worthy of very severe sentences. Justice was done in this case.”
Klinker was prosecuted in the 400th District Court before Presiding Judge Clifford J. Vacek. Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is a first-degree felony punishable by 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Under Texas parole law, the defendant must serve at least 10 years in prison before she can be considered for parole.
Assistant District Attorneys Zahra Jivani Fenelon and Natalie Sarfin prosecuted the case. Attorney Kenneth Bryant represented the defendant.