A 30-year-old Hailey man accused of multiple counts of rape against a 16-year-old Ketchum girl pleaded guilty Monday to a single count of sexual battery of a minor.
Vicente Manturano-Soto, who court records state is a Peruvian national, was indicted on four counts of rape by a Blaine County grand jury in November. The indictment alleges that Manturano-Soto had sexual intercourse with the girl on four occasions in May and June of 2010.
In court Monday, the defendant admitted to only having touched the girl in a way intended to "arouse her sexual desires."
Manturano-Soto's guilty plea averted a jury trial scheduled to start Tuesday in Blaine County 5th District Court.
Judge Robert J. Elgee advised the defendant that sexual battery of a minor is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The crime of rape is punishable by up to life behind bars.
Manturano-Soto's guilty plea was in accord with a plea agreement with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which agreed to have the four rape counts dismissed and will recommend that the defendant be sentenced to seven years in prison, with three years to be served before parole eligibility.
Elgee scheduled sentencing for 10 a.m. on May 16.
Manturano-Soto remains incarcerated in the Blaine County jail on $30,000 bond. An immigration detainer filed by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency accuses Manturano-Soto of being in the United States illegally.
Manturano-Soto is represented by Hailey attorney Douglas Nelson, who said he has represented Manturano-Soto in previous cases and never had a problem with immigration. According to court records, Manturano-Soto has lived in the Wood River Valley since 2002.
At Monday's court hearing, Manturano-Soto acknowledged through a court interpreter that he had been involved in a "girlfriend and boyfriend" relationship with the girl.
"In Peru, it's more free, but the law is different here and I respect that," Manturano-Soto said.
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org