On Tuesday, Jesus Valentine Pedraza of St. James, 24, received a dispositional departure, meaning a prison sentence is announced but not executed, for fourth-degree criminal sex conduct-force or coercion.
Commitment to the commissioner of corrections for 93 months will stay for ten years. Pedraza will instead serve ten years of supervised probation, 446 days in local confinement, and pay a $1,000 fine. Other conditions include completing a chemical assessment, have no contact with persons under age 18, have no contact with minor females under age 18 without written approval from treatment provider or probation agent (blood relation excluded from this condition), complete a psychological-sexual evaluation, and register as a predatory offender.
Defense attorney Kevin Green advised Pedraza to take advantage of the sentencing. "If not, he has a lot of jail time hanging over his head," said Green.
Pedraza's departure was dispositional because of the victim and the family's agreement. County attorney Steve Lindee and Judge Stephen Ferrazzano also advised Pedraza to take advantage of the circumstances because, if not, he could face a lifetime of supervised release.
In early January, Pedraza pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sex conduct-force or coercion via Alford plea, protecting himself from being convicted by a jury.
The original charges included 1. criminal sexual conduct-first degree-penetration or contact under 13-use force/coerce and 2. criminal sex conduct-third degree-force or coercion. The court dismissed count one and amended count two to fourth-degree. The victim and her family agreed with the changes.
In November 2018, the court first set the bail amount at $500,000 with no conditions and $300,000 with conditions.
The initial incident took place between August 20 and August 31 of 2018. Officer Eric Wagman took a report on November 12, 2018, where he learned Victim 1 was at a party in St. James, as so was Pedraza. At some point, Victim 1 fell asleep on the couch, and Pedraza fell asleep on the other end. Victim 1 awoke, and Pedraza was lying directly behind the victim, both on their right sides. Pedraza tapped Victim 1's shoulder and asked if he could lay behind her. Victim 1 declined, but Pedraza stayed there anyway, saying it was more comfortable. Victim 1 tried to move off the couch, but Pedraza grabbed her midsection and pulled her closer to him. He then wrapped his other arm around her and told her, "don't move" several times. He used his left hand to unzip her jeans and pull them down before touching her. Victim 1 freed her right hand and grabbed the couch to try and pull away from Pedraza. He grabbed both her arms to prevent her from moving. Victim 1 tried to speak, but Pedraza squeezed her throat with his left hand. She couldn't breathe. She continued to try to escape. After several minutes, Pedraza stopped, moved to the other side of the couch, and said, "Don't say anything about this." Pedraza later sent messages to Victim 1, saying he "[expletive] up," wanted to explain himself, "lost control," and wanted to "make love" to Victim 1.
Pedraza was arrested on November 16, 2018, and refused to provide a statement.