A couple from Santa Clarita, California, spent April 4 in court over allegations they have invited children over for sleepovers and molested at least eight of them for the past 10 years.
Authorities arrested parents Jacqueline Wadsworth, 32, and Francisco Avendano, 42, on March 31 after officials grew suspicious they were responsible for abusing two children under the age of 14, the Daily Mail reports.
A 12-year-old boy reportedly told his mother about the abuse, who then alerted the police and initiated the investigations.
Since then, police have come to believe there are at least six more victims involved and are urging others to come forward.
“As our detectives began investigating the case it was sort of like peeling back an onion,” Sergeant Brian Hudson said, KTTV reports.
“It’s a horrific case, and that’s why we’re concerned there may be other kids out there just based on the nature and the amount of kids that have been involved so far,” added Hudson, KABC reports.
Officials believe that for at least a decade, the couple may have abused multiple children whose ages range from as young as 3 up to age 17.
“[Avendano] would befriend neighborhood children and the friends of family members, and then sexually assault them,” said Hudson.
“Many times they’ve threatened the kids that ‘If you say something, I will harm you, I will harm your family,’” he added.
Neighbors say they are shocked by the allegations.
“It’s disgusting,” neighbor, Heather Carias, said. “It turns my stomach.”
“I’m really floored that I knew nothing and really didn’t suspect anything,” she added.
Both Wadsworth and Avendano have pleaded not guilty to the felony charges of committing lewd acts against children. They are both in jail; Avendano’s bail is at a little over $2 million while Wadsworth’s is set at $200,000.