DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif. -

A former Desert Springs Middle School security guard was ordered Monday to serve about six months in jail, followed by three years of probation, for sexually abusing two female students.

Marvin Cash, 47, was convicted May 1 of simple assault, simple battery and two counts of molesting a child under 18, all misdemeanors. Jurors reduced
the first two counts from felony charges of committing lewd acts on a child younger than 14 and sexual battery.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Graham A. Cribbs suspended half of a one-year jail term, which the defendant will not have to serve if he follows the terms of his probation, Deputy District Attorney Brijida Rodarte said.

Cash must also register as a sex offender within five days after his release from jail, take child abuse prevention classes and stay at least 100 yards from the victims and have no other contact with them, according to Rodarte.

Rodarte told jurors that Cash began sexually harassing girls in 1997, when he told his then-girlfriend's 9-year-old daughter about sexual positions and put her hand on his crotch while living in San Bernardino County. The girl also saw him masturbating, the prosecutor said.

In 2008, Cash started working at Desert Springs Middle School in Desert Hot Springs, where he handled the school's tardy sweeps.

One girl who was often late to class got to know Cash and "thought he was cool," Rodarte said. In February 2010, the girl and Cash were in the student store to get ice cream from a freezer.

"She closes the (freezer) door and sees Mr. Cash. His pants are open ... He's exposing himself and manipulating himself," Rodarte told the jury.

She said Cash grabbed the girl's hand and made her touch his private parts, kissed her on the lips and touched her breast.

"He was a trusted person," the prosecutor said.

The girl told school officials, who contacted law enforcement, and a few other girls came forward, including an eighth-grader who said Cash offered her $50 to send him a photo of herself. The prosecutor also said he made comments about girls' bodies, asking one of them when she would have his baby.

"The problems still keep coming up," Rodarte said. "Mr. Cash can't help himself. He reaches out to these females, children, and takes advantage of them."

She said the charges in the case involved two victims.

Cash's attorney, Louisa Pensanti, contended her client was guilty of nothing more than "being the cool security guy at the school and making comments."

"It was inappropriate and should have been taken care of at the school, but none (of the allegations) rises to the level of a felony," Pensanti told the jury.

She said Cash's alleged contact with the girl in the student store  didn't happen. She said the girl signed in at the tardy room, then "went off into the campus, completely against the rules." Cash went after her and told her she could be suspended, at which point she cursed at him, Pensanti said.

"What did she do? She did what she had to do in order to protect herself," the attorney said.

Cash stopped working for the Palm Springs Unified School District in mid-2010, according to a district spokeswoman, who declined to say if he quit or was fired, citing personnel confidentiality.