The District Attorney’s Office said Antonio Smith, of Dos Palos, entered no-contest pleas to two counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14.
Smith, 41, also admitted to Merced County Superior Court Judge Carol Ash that he had a prior “strike” conviction stemming from similar conduct in 1990. Both of the new convictions are also strikes under the “Three Strikes” law, authorities said.
After the plea, Ash sentenced Smith to 16 years in state prison.
The convictions stem from an investigation by the Dos Palos Police Department, which learned of the molestations when officers found a 16-year-old girl intoxicated at the defendant’s residence.
Following a tip during that investigation, police learned that Smith had been having sexual contact with other underage girls with the victim in the current case age 12.
When the victim was interviewed, she detailed the sexual abuse she suffered at the hand of the defendant, authorities said.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Carroll, who prosecuted the case, said the defendant’s victims have been severely traumatized by Smith’s crimes.
“I want to thank the victims for their courage throughout this ordeal. These crimes involve children and make the reporting and prosecution traumatic,” he said.
Carroll also praised the Dos Palos Police Department for its investigation.
He also noted that the plea agreement was made in part to protect “these fragile victims from further suffering.”
Because the offenses Smith was convicted of are violent felonies, he’ll be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
Smith will also be subject to an evaluation by prison officials to determine if he is a sexually violent predator.
If he is found to be, he faces a potential lifetime civil commitment in a state hospital, officials said.
“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”