An illegal immigrant has been sentenced to seven years in prison for having sex in May with a 13-year-old Hailey girl.
Sentence was pronounced Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court for 21-year-old Rolando Juarez-Juarez, a Hailey man who pleaded guilty in September to a single felony count of lewd conduct with a minor child under 16. A rape charge was dismissed against the defendant in exchange for his guilty plea to lewd conduct.
Juarez-Juarez must spend three years in prison before he is eligible for parole. Once released, he likely faces deportation to Mexico.
"These are very sad cases for all parties," said Judge Robert J. Elgee. "I think there's a message that needs to go out to the public to stay away from young girls no matter what they think they want."
Juarez-Juarez was arrested in June after allegations surfaced that he and a 17-year-old Hailey boy had been involved sexually with two Hailey girls, ages 12 and 13. Information on the case against the 17-year-old boy is not available because juvenile cases are typically sealed from public review.
Investigation by Hailey police showed that the sex was consensual, but consent is irrelevant in cases of sex with underage children.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback said the 13-year-old victim was "legally incapable" of making a decision to have sex.
"It's irrelevant whether the girl was the aggressor," Fredback said. "I think a severe sentence sends a message of deterrence to the defendant and others in the community. Others need to realize that if they seek to prey on young girls that they will be subject to severe punishment."
Fredback said the defendant's complicity in the crime was worsened because Juarez-Juarez had sexual intercourse with the girl on at least two occasions.
"There were some sober, conscious decisions made by the defendant to have the victim come over to his apartment and engage in sexual conduct," Fredback said. "The defendant admitted that he told his friend that the girls were too young."
Public defender Kevin Cassidy agreed that Juarez-Juarez needed to serve prison time for the crime, but asked the judge for a two-year fixed sentence and five years indeterminate.
Cassidy pointed out that Juarez-Juarez had no prior criminal convictions and had been forced since his arrest to be separated from his wife and child.
"He has no prior history of victimizing children or young girls," Cassidy said. "He also recognizes that he will be going to prison and after that time he will be deported and further separated from his family."
A Spanish-speaking court interpreter translated the proceedings to Juarez-Juarez, whose wife was the only spectator at the hearing. She sat quietly in the back and left the court building immediately after sentence was pronounced.