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Sentence Is 21 Years for Sex Attack on 3 Teens

Times Staff Writer

A Sylmar man who halted his sexual assault on his three 14-year-old kidnap victims after they told him they were virgins was sentenced in San Fernando Superior Court Tuesday to 21 years in state prison.

Judge Edward I. Gorman imposed the sentence on Mark A. Cantrell, 24, who was convicted by a jury in February of three counts of kidnaping, two counts of rape with a foreign object, one count of sexual battery and three counts of attempted rape for the attack on Nov. 9, 1984.

According to court records, Cantrell, an unemployed laborer, threatened the three girls with a fake gun as they stood outside Alemany High School in Mission Hills waiting for a ride to a football game.

Cantrell ordered the girls to walk in front of him and disrobe behind some bushes down the street, a probation report said. As he began to molest them, the girls told him they were virgins. The girls testified that Cantrell became angry and threatened to kill them, but soon halted the attack and left.

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Seen at Fast-Food Place

One of the victims spotted Cantrell at a fast-food restaurant several days after the attack and wrote down his car’s license plate number, the probation report said. Police arrested him four days later, the report said.

During sentencing Tuesday, the father of one of the victims testified that his daughter told him she believed that Cantrell was going to kill her.

“What has happened to us is every parent’s nightmare,” he said. “We have tried to bring her up sheltered and protected from people like this and it hasn’t worked.”

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Gorman, who could have sentenced Cantrell to as much as 30 years in prison, called the crimes “dreadful,” but cited Cantrell’s lack of a previous adult felony record as grounds for imposing a less severe sentence.

‘The Lord’s Will’

Cantrell, who cursed at jurors as they returned their guilty verdict in February, continued to insist that he is innocent. A probation report later said Cantrell “is very much involved with religion at this time and feels that what is happening to him ‘must be the Lord’s will.’ ”

Deputy District Atty. Kenneth Loveman, who prosecuted the case, said Cantrell could be released from prison in 12 years.


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