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GREAT FALLS — A Montana man has been convicted of assaults on minors for beating his girlfriend's sons with a belt and rubbing hot sauce in their eyes.

The children testified against Robert Mathew Holguin Jr. of Great Falls on Tuesday. Jurors found him guilty Wednesday.

Defense attorney Victor Bunitsky argued the boys' mother, Mandy Marie McElwain, gave Holguin permission to discipline the children and witnessed it.

Child welfare workers placed the boys — then 5 and 8 — in foster care in 2016.

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McElwain pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment in November 2017 and was given a two-year deferred sentence.

She testified she did not agree with the hot sauce discipline but was afraid to try to intervene.

Holguin was taken into custody with sentencing set for Jan. 7.

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