A man convicted of raping 25 women in the Bay Area in 1980s recently became eligible for the state’s new Elderly Parole Program, and is getting a parole hearing Wednesday, much to the horror of his many victims.
George Anthony Sanchez, a former San Jose sewer worker, was convicted in 1989 following a rape spree that spanned at least three years, between 1984 and 1987. He was 27 years old and married at the time, and he was known to target women in and around churches in nine South Bay communities, including an 83-year-old woman he raped in a church confessional.
"In the history of Santa Clara County, he is arguably the most vicious and horrific serial rapist we've ever had," says Santa Clara County Deputy DA Steven Dick, speaking with KRON 4. And of the victim count, Dick says, "It's probably more than that. It's probably up to 45 women that he raped. He raped women from the ages of 16 to 83, and most of them he raped in their homes."
In one case, Sanchez raped a mother on a bed while her 17-year-old daughter lay frozen beside them. In another, he raped a pregnant woman while her four-year-old son lay on the floor nearby. And he always wore a ski mask and often brought jewelry stolen from his victims home to his wife — she was charged as a co-defendant with 13 counts of possession of stolen property, but those charges were dropped.
Sanchez was originally sentenced to more than 400 years in prison, but as KPIX explains, under the Elderly Parole Program, Sanchez would qualify both as a youth offender — he committed all of his rapes before the age of 26 — and as an elderly offender who has spent decades behind bars. The program is typically only available to inmates who are 60 or older, but the youth circumstance grants Sanchez the possibility of speedier parole. He is currently 58, and apparently requested the parole hearing.
Sanchez's victims say they want to do everything in their power to prevent him from walking free. A victim named Lisa who withheld her last name told the Mercury-News, "I thought he had no chance at parole. I will do anything in this world to keep that from happening. I’ll go to every parole hearing. I will do whatever it takes to keep him in prison." She added, "George Sanchez does not deserve to be considered under this law. Some people do, but not him."
Dick tells the Mercury-News that he doesn't care to debate the merits of the Elderly Parole Program when it comes to this case. "There are some people who have committed such heinous and horrendous acts that justice demands that they serve the sentence that they were given," he says.
An article from 1989 about Sanchez's conviction from the UPI archives suggests that he was set to receive a life-without-parole sentence, but that did not end up happening. He was sentenced instead to 406 years.
The Elderly Parole Program is open only to those sentenced with the possibility of parole, those who have served a minimum of 25 years already, and not to any inmate convicted of first-degree murder of a peace officer.