A Monett man has pleaded no contest to charges of sodomy was sentenced of 15 years in prison, according to Lawrence County Prosecutor Robert George.
Audel Leonardo Lopez Rodriguez, 26, was scheduled to go to trial on four counts of first degree statutory sodomy on Wednesday. As jury selection was about to begin in Stone County on a change of venue, Rodriguez changed his plea to guilty.
Circuit Judge Robert S. Wiley then sentenced Rodriguez to 15 years in prison on each count. The sentences will run concurrently.
"The state is pleased with the sentences in this case," said George. "While we were prepared to proceed to trial on the case, the plea eliminates the need of the victims testifying before a jury.
"Our victims were 10 and 11 years of age at the time of the offenses. While both were prepared to testify against the defendant, they were relieved that they did not need to face him in the courtroom."
According to statement of facts presented to the court, Rodriguez was a live-in boyfriend of the victim's mother. Between Sept. 1, 2008, and April 1, 2009, Rodriguez touched the genital area of both victims and had one victim touch Rodriguez in a sexual manner. One of the victims told her mother about what had happened and the mother immediately took the girl to a hospital.
A hotline report was made, and the Department of Social Services and Lawrence County Sheriff's Department conducted an investigation into the allegations. The children were interviewed at the Pierce Child Advocacy Center.
|"I am very pleased with the work of the Department of Social Services, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department and the Child Advocacy Center," said George. "Because of the hard work of the agencies, the children were spared the trauma of testifying in front of the defendant and a number of adults."|
Because of the defendant's immigration status, Rodriguez will be deported once he has completed his sentence. The defendant must serve 85 percent of the 15-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.