◼ Belant guilty on all counts
A Humboldt County jury on Monday convicted Brian Andrew Belant of each of the 17 felony charges of child molestation and possession of child pornography he faced.
”The evidence was overwhelming,” said juror No. 8, who asked not to be identified. “We looked at all the evidence and came to a unanimous decision.”
A teacher's aide and youth pastor, Belant, 26, was arrested March 1, 2008, at his Eureka home after a Humboldt County Sheriff's Office investigation revealed Belant had molested three boys under the age of 14.
After the investigation turned up another victim, Belant was eventually held to answer to a total of 17 charges relating to four victims, including two charges of possessing child pornography and nine counts of molestation, in some cases by means of force or fear.
Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said the verdict means Belant is facing four life sentences.
Belant's attorney, Andrew Pruitt, was not immediately available for comment after Monday's verdict.
Gallegos said his office offered Belant a plea bargain that would have seen him serve 40 years in prison in exchange for providing law enforcement with the names of other victims.
”Mr. Belant was always willing to be cooperative, but the price he wanted for that cooperation was never palatable,” Gallegos said, adding that he's still willing to offer Belant a use immunity agreement in exchange for information he can provide n any other potential victims in the case so the victims can have access to support services.