Trial set for stepfather charged with sexual abuse

A man charged with sexually abusing his two step-daughters had a jury trial date set Friday during a pre-trial hearing.

David Anthony Cortez, 34, will have a jury trial at 9 a.m. April 2 in the 161st District Court of Judge John Smith. Court records list Tony Chavez as Cortez’s court-appointed attorney.

Cortez’s common-law wife for three years and the mother of the two victims said she had just gotten back from Walmart with her children when her oldest daughter asked her if she could ask a question.

“Can you please tell daddy to stop doing s-e-x to me?” the woman said she asked her.

Then her son came in the room and told his sister she wasn’t supposed to tell her mother about it.

“I just lost it,” she said. “I felt so bad and so guilty.”

Her two daughters, ages 7 and 5 at the time of the abuse, were scared to tell her because Cortez had been threatening to hurt the mother if they said anything.

After reporting the abuse to the Odessa Police Department in December of 2016, the mother said she came up with a plan with the detectives to get a recorded confession from him, and later talked him into making a complete confession at the police station.

“It was very hard to be around him, but I knew that I had to do what it took to make sure that my girls would get the justice they deserve,” she said.

Following Cortez’s confession, an exam by a sexual assault nurse examiner, he was charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a child in January 2017, and indicted by a grand jury on the charges two months later.

Both victims went to therapy after the abuse, and their mother said that they’re both doing well now. Both will have to testify before the court during the trial, but their mother said they are ready and will have a large support system at the trial.

“My oldest daughter told me she wants to make sure he can never hurt anyone else again,” she said.

Her youngest son was never abused by Cortez, she said, but said she found out most of the details of the abuse from him, because he had to watch all of it.

Cortez was taken to the Ector County Detention Center in January of 2017, but he was released this past January on two bonds totaling $150,000, jail records show.

“As soon as I found out he got out I moved my girls to live with my mom because I know what he’s capable of and my girls are the only thing standing between him and his freedom,” she said. “I got them out of town. I couldn’t bear to think about what might happen if they were here.”

The mother said Cortez had never assaulted her at any point when they were together, and she had never seen any indication that anything was going on with her daughters.

“They told him that they loved him every day,” she said. “The therapists say he groomed them and it was normal.”

Should Cortez be found guilty, he could be sentenced anywhere between five and 99 years in prison.

“I hope he never sees the light of day again,” the mother said.