Local man gets 27 years for sexual abuse of child

HARLINGEN — A Harlingen man has been sentenced to prison for the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy, prosecutors said.

On Thursday, Israel Leyva, 34, was sentenced to 27 years in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

After taking less than an hour to deliberate, the jury came back with a guilty verdict for Leyva, who police said was originally arrested for the crime in December 2014.

The incident occurred when the child was 12 years old but, as with many cases, the sexual abuse was not immediately reported because of fear or shame that victims often feel, the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

It is not until victims feel safe that they will make an outcry about the abuse, the DA’s office said.

Officers were called at 2:18 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2014, to a home in Harlingen where the caller stated he had seen a 12-year-old boy performing a sex act with Leyva, police said.

The caller said the boy was threatened and drugged before the sex act, a police press release said.

The conviction was a collaborative effort by Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Child Abuse Unit Supervisor Brandy Bailey, Assistant District Attorney Carlos Martinez, Harlingen Police Department, Department of Family and Protective Services, Cameron County Children’s Advocacy Centers, “and most importantly the child who bravely testified against the abuser in the trail,” the District Attorney’s Office said.

“This case personifies what a child that has been sexually abused goes through,” District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said.