BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Justice has been served, that is what Kauri Walton is exclaiming as she exits Kern County Superior Court for one last time following the sentencing of her abuser Tuesday morning. It took years of uphill legal battles and facing her abuser time after time.
“I never thought I’d get to see this day,” said Walton. “I was depressed, I was suicidal, I thought I was going to end my life before I got to see my justice.”
The wheels of justice turned slowly for Kauri Walton. ‘. It was in 2018 that then 15–year-old Walton told her mother, Marlana Clevenger, she was being abused by Miguel Acosta Castillo Jr, father of Kauri’s best friend.
“You see red, you want to do what everyone wants to do,” said Clevenger. “It’s hard to find the words to describe this, it’s been a long process, it’s been 1,554 days.”
Last month, a jury convicted Castillo of molesting Walton and another teen girl. Tuesday morning, the 43-year-old was sentenced to 38 years to life in prison. He showed no reaction as the judge handed down the sentence, waving to his family members as they left the courtroom.
In 2001, Castillo plead ‘no contest’ to a charge of committing sex acts with a child under 14, reason enough why Walton expected a heavier sentence.
“I was hoping for life without parole,” said Walton. “There is a chance that he can get out and that is not okay.”
Mother and daughter both say the road to justice was difficult, far more difficult than facing the truth of what happened to Walton.
“I didn’t think it would take this long,” said Walton. “Especially as a victim, as someone who did not do anything wrong, I shouldn’t have had to wait this long to get justice.”
17 News does not usually name victims of sexual abuse, but for Walton speaking out was more important than her privacy and silence wouldn’t fix what she believes is a broken system.
“This story has allowed other individuals to come out and heal,” said Clevenger. “You just have faith in the justice system that they are going to do what it’s supposed to do, it was a rough 4 years.”
Castillo’s attorney said his client continues to maintain his innocence. Noting they beat several of the charges, and believe convictions resulted from ‘the fundamentally unfair practice of allowing the jury to hear about prior convictions.
“He’s finally behind bars,” said Walton. “I’m happy that I can finally heal, I am done with this process, if you are going thru something like this, you will get thru it, you can talk to me.”