BARABOO — A North Freedom man was sentenced Monday to 17 years of prison for sexually assaulting a young girl on multiple occasions in 2013.
After his initial term of confinement, Sotero S. Rodriguez, 68, will serve an additional 15 years of probation. A Sauk County jury found him guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child following a three-day trial in October.
“I don’t understand how men like you are created,” said the mother of the victim, whose name is being withheld in order to protect the identity of the victim. “How can I protect my children from people like you?”
She said her daughter has been traumatized by the assaults and will be forced to go through years of therapy in order to deal with emotional and behavioral problems.
During the sentencing hearing Jan. 12 in Sauk County Circuit Court, the victim’s father and grandmother also spoke about problems the girl now must overcome as a result of damage caused by Rodriguez.
Rodriguez displayed little emotion while listening to the statements through an interpreter. He sometimes shook his head, disagreeing with the statements of the victim’s family.
In July 2013, a woman told authorities she walked in on Rodriguez forcing himself on the young victim. During an interview with a Sauk County Sheriff’s Department detective, the girl confirmed the assault.
“In looking at the defendant’s character, he has taken no responsibility for what he’s done to (the victim),” said Sauk County Assistant District Attorney Linda Hoffman prior to sentencing. “He has provided several different versions of what happened, including a new version to (pre-sentence investigation) writers.”
She said Rodriguez has even blamed the victim for climbing on him while he was sleeping, and has showed no remorse for the crimes.
Rodriguez spoke to the judge through an interpreter prior to sentencing, accusing the girl’s parents of contributing to the girl’s problems. He blamed them for allowing the girl access to adult materials through cable television.
“She knows things that adults know,” he said, also accusing the parents of a variety of other criminal behavior that was seemingly unrelated to the sexual assaults.
Rodriguez’ daughter, 26-year-old Ruby Manzanilla, defended her father, saying he was a hard worker who loved children and never would have harmed them. She said the allegations against him seemed out of character.
Rodriguez’ defense attorney, Ronald Benavides of Madison, requested only probation for his client. But Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Guy Reynolds said that such a sentence would not serve the interest of justice.
After listening to the statements from the defendant, his family, the victim’s family and attorneys, Reynolds adopted the sentence recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections: 17 years of prison followed by 15 years of parole.
“The intention of this sentence is to punish and deter others who are situated in a position of trust with a young child from such criminal acts, and to reaffirm that there are severe consequences for these types of criminal actions,” Reynolds said.
Rodriguez may have no contact with the victim or her family, or anyone under the age of 18, unless authorized by the Department of Corrections. He will be in his mid-80s when he is released from prison, and nearly 100 by the time he completes parole.