Sex with 13-year-old girl lands former high school coach in prison

Former Copper Hills High assistant baseball coach Rodrigo Humberto Garza took a deep breath and exhaled Monday as he walked to a courtroom podium, and minutes later, was sentenced to prison for having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Garza, now 36, had engaged in a sexual relationship with the girl for about a year, and paid her $300 on at least one occasion.

“You effectively made her a prostitute,” said 3rd District Court Judge Terry Christiansen.

Garza pleaded guilty in Nov. 2007 to two second degree felony charges of sexual abuse of a child. Each charge carries a sentence of 1-15 years in prison.

Garza made a brief apology to the girl Monday, who was not present at the sentencing, and said he took responsibility for his actions.

Garza’s attorney, Paul Grant, asked Christiansen to sentence his client to a year in a jail, saying Garza wasn’t a threat to others and began the relationship with the teen during an emotionally dark time after his father died and he lost a career in sports.

“It appears what drew him to this was not a deep pedophilia,” Grant said. But Christiansen decided to order Garza to prison because he had paid her for sex, was employed as a coach at the time of the relationship and was nearly three times her age.

“This girl is young enough to be your daughter, not your girlfriend,” Christiansen said. “…If you had a 13-year-old I would almost guarantee you you would be appalled if someone did that with your daughter.”

Christiansen sentenced Garza to prison on both charges but ordered that they run concurrently. A bailiff handcuffed Garza after the sentencing and took him into custody. Police have said the crimes had nothing to do with the high school or Garza’s duty as a coach.

Carter pushes bill to restrict sex offenders’ Internet use

Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter is urging state lawmakers to pass a bill that would make it illegal for convicted sex offenders to use social networking Web sites frequented by children, such as MySpace.com.

Carter says the bill carries tougher penalties for sex offenders who contact children via such sites. He urged support for it last week during visits around the state.

The proposal would make it a crime punishable by six months to three years in prison for someone listed on the state sex offender registry to use a social networking Web site. If the person contacted a child on the site, the penalty could be two to eight years.

Carter says four other states have enacted similar laws. The Indiana House will hold a hearing on the legislation this week.

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Former wrestling coach strikes deal, pleads guilty

Jeremy Hendricks, 28, a former Marshalltown assistant wrestling coach, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual exploitation by a school employee and will be sentenced later this month.

Hendricks had originally been facing a felony charge, but struck a deal with prosecutors for the lesser charge.

“The court’s rules had deprived us of a substantial amount of evidence against him,” said Assistant Marshall County Attorney Paul Crawford.

Hendricks was accused of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a student at Marshalltown High School. He was charged in 2005.

The deal means he will likely get no jail time for the crime. The prosecutor will be recommending probation.

“This will still require him to be on the sex offender registry,” Crawford said.

Crawford said he was also under the impression that Hendricks has surrendered his coaching license as a consequence of the situation.

The Iowa sex offender registry provides a searchable database of sex offenders and now also includes residency restrictions, limiting the locations sex offenders are able to live.

Published in: on January 14, 2008 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment