Above: Kelsey Cabrera (L) and Amanda Johnson (R) | Butte County District Attorney
On May 24 of this year in a courtroom at Butte County Superior Court, two Magalia mothers were sentenced to ten years and eight months each in state prison. Kelsey Cabrera, 35, and Amanda Johnson, 39, pleaded no contest to multiple charges of child abuse and witness dissuading in relation to their five minor children.
According to a press release by the Butte County District Attorney, the charges stem from years of physical and sexual abuse inflicted on their biological children by their co-defendant, Robert Chavez, 41. Between the years 2021 and 2023, Cabrera, Johnson, and Chavez were reportedly involved in a polyamorous relationship and resided together with the minor children, whose ages ranged from 4 to 16, at a residence on Colter Way in Magalia.
The case came to light in January 2023 when one of the children disclosed the abuse at school. Investigators from the Butte County District Attorney’s Office later interviewed the child and ultimately arrested Chavez after a four-hour standoff at the family’s Magalia home.
Over the following weeks, investigators conducted multiple interviews and discovered the extent of the abuse inflicted on the children by Chavez. The victims revealed numerous incidents of sexual abuse and extreme levels of physical abuse. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey reportedly described the abuse committed by Chavez as truly horrific and one of the worst cases his office had seen in some time.
The children recounted incidents in which Chavez shot them with BB guns, beat them with whips and paddles, and punched and kicked them in their faces and bodies. They also disclosed that Chavez took pleasure in torturing a young boy, inflicting extensive bruising. Additionally, Chavez burned a young girl’s face with cigarettes. He further threatened the children with harm if they ever disclosed the abuse.
After the initial disclosure, the remaining children were removed from the home and interviewed. The witness dissuading charges against Cabrera and Johnson reportedly stemmed from the day the children were removed in which both mothers instructed their children not to talk to investigators about the abuse in the presence of law enforcement officers.
During the sentencing hearing, both Cabrera and Johnson addressed the court, reportedly claiming they were unaware of the sexual abuse. The prosecuting attorney argued that both women were aware of sexual abuse within the home, citing their acknowledgment in interviews with investigators that they had walked in on Chavez with one of the minor females, as well as other incidents that raised their suspicions.
Judge Jesus Rodriguez agreed with the prosecution, finding that the women’s claims of no knowledge of the sexual abuse were not credible based on what they had seen and heard in the home. It was also apparent that they were aware of the physical abuse since they were present during many of those incidents.
Considering the egregious and violent nature of the continuous abuse suffered by the children, the callousness of the crimes, the use of weapons against the children, and the mothers’ failure to intervene, Judge Rodriguez sentenced both Cabrera and Johnson to the maximum term of 10 years and 8 months in state prison.
Previously, co-defendant Robert Chavez was sentenced to 80 years to life in prison on May 12, 2023.