Lengthy prison term for admitted sex molester | News | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

URBANA — A St. Joseph man who admitted that he repeatedly sexually molested a child in his care has been sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Joshua Rodriguez, 33, will have to serve at least 16 years behind bars but was given credit on his sentence for two years and three months that he’s been in custody awaiting trial.

Rodriguez was charged in March 2021 with five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under the age of 13, but pleaded guilty in April of this year to only two of those counts.

On Friday, Judge Ben Dyer sentenced Rodriguez to 10 years for one offense and nine years for the other, which must be served consecutively because they were distinct acts.

Assistant State’s Attorney Joel Fletcher said the case opened on March 10, 2021, after the victim was found walking her bicycle along Interstate 74 near St. Joseph. A concerned truck driver, a father, saw the young girl and stopped to talk to her. He gave her a ride to a relative’s home as she requested and the child revealed to that adult what Rodriguez had been doing to her.

Fletcher said the charges filed alleged conduct that took place between March 2019 and March 2021. Rodriguez admitted performing acts on the girl at a location in Urbana.

He has been in jail since March 12, 2021.

His attorney, Jim Martinkus of Champaign, gave Dyer letters of support from Rodriguez’s family to consider and let the judge know that his client is a combat veteran.

Fletcher presented the judge with an interview the child had with a trained forensic interviewer at the Children’s Advocacy Center and a letter she had written the day she was found walking on the interstate in which she said what had been happening to her.

Rodriguez, whose only previous criminal convictions were for theft and unlawful possession of alcohol, will have to register as a sex offender for life.

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