EL CAJON – Pauletta Santaua pleaded guilty in El Cajon Superior Court on Tuesday to molesting a 12-year-old girl. Santaua, 20, admitted to molesting the girl in photographs and videos taken by an East County photographer, Gary Lee Whiteside.
Santaua told the judge she agreed to a deal in which she would be required to register as a sex offender for life and could receive up to 8 years in prison, to be determined at her April 14 hearing.
Whiteside, 65, is charged with 51 counts of molesting and photographing nine girls between January 2003 and June 2008 in his La Mesa and El Cajon studios.
Santaua apparently met Whiteside when she was introduced to him via one of the girls he is charged with molesting. Santaua had hopes of being a model and was encouraged to attend the studio by her mother.
Investigators are still looking for a baby and an adolescent girl who appeared in the photographs taken by Whiteside. They are also interested in finding any parents or children who had inappropriate contact with Whiteside.
Whiteside’s trial is set for May 11 and if convicted, he could get in excess of 400 years to life in prison.
In addition to the criminal prosecution, victims of child molestation may obtain monetary compensation in a civil lawsuit. If you or a loved one has been a victim of or subjected to molestation or sexual assault, contact the attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.