MORGAN HILL, Calif. – Harry Goularte, the alleged target of gunfire by former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will have some additional time before his plea hearing.
Goularte, 43, did not attend his plea hearing Wednesday in South County Morgan Hill (Calif.) Courthouse. He faces a felony charge of lewd acts with a minor child. Instead, he joined the hearing virtually. Both the prosecution and defense asked Judge Le Jacqueline Duong for a continuance in the case. The judge approved the request and set Goularte’s plea hearing for June 6.
Following the conclusion of the hearing, which lasted approximately two minutes, both attorneys spoke briefly to reporters outside the courthouse.
Lead defense attorney Stephen DeFilippis told reporters, including MMA Junkie, his client is innocent and intends on continuing to join hearings virtually going forward.
“We intend to prove his innocence, and I think the people around here (protesting) should understand someone is presumed innocent until he’s convicted,” DeFilippis said. “… He didn’t do it.”
Deputy district attorney Robert Philbrook said he didn’t have an issue with Goularte’s virtual presence vs. in-person, something that disappointed Velasquez supporters in and out of the courtroom Wednesdaay. COVID-19 has changed procedures, he explained, though there are some potential court appearances he’d want Goularte in-person for.
“The investigation is on-going,” Philbrook said. “The full police report has just been provided and there needs to be time for both parties to view and go over it and make sure all the discovery is provided.”
According to investigators, Goularte sexually assaulted a 4-year-old child at a daycare he resided at run by his mother. The child, who later was identified as a relative of Velasquez, told investigators Goularte took the child to the bathroom and touched the child’s genitals. The child said it happened “100 times” and that other children were seen going into the bathroom with Goularte.
Two days after his arrest, Goularte was granted $50,000 bail. One day later, Velasquez allegedly pursued and fired a gun at Goularte. While Goularte was not physically injured, his stepfather Paul Bender was struck by a bullet in the shoulder.
Since that day, Velasquez has remained behind bars, denied bail based on alleged actions Judge Sheylna Brown called “reckless.” The former UFC heavyweight champion appeared at a plea hearing of his own Tuesday, where judge Jose S. Franco granted a continuance. Velasquez now will have his plea hearing May 6 at Santa Clara County Hall of Justice.
If found guilty, Goularte faces a charge that carries a sentence of up to eight years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. Velasquez, if found guilty on attempted murder, could face a prison term of 20 years to life.