An adult male who engaged in sexual activity with a 14-year-old female was spared jail time under the terms of a deal presented in 5th Judicial District Court during a June 26 change of plea hearing.
Jehu Gonzalez, 21, of Roswell, pleaded no contest to one count of criminal sexual penetration in the fourth degree. Judge James Hudson accepted the sentencing recommendation made by the prosecution and imposed a conditional discharge.
According to a 2011 New Mexico Statute 31-20-13, a first-time felon who is given a suspended sentence may enter a conditional plea and be placed on probation without being convicted.
If the person violates any conditions of probation, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and act as otherwise provided by law.
Under the recommendation accepted by the court, Gonzalez must successfully complete 18 months of supervised probation and undergo mental health and sex-offender screening and treatment as recommended.
He must also complete 100 hours of community service — a requirement that can be waived if Gonzalez can maintain full-time employment or enrollment in an educational institution — and have no contact with the victim and no unsupervised contact with individuals under the age of 18.
At the hearing, Michael Gomez, Gonzalez’s attorney, called the sentence “fair and appropriate” and one that gives Gonzalez a chance to be a better person.
In November, the girl’s mother reported her daughter as missing or a runaway and told Chaves County Sheriff’s Office deputies her daughter had been missing, according to court documents.
Court documents state the mother told deputies her daughter had been speaking to an adult 21-year-old male, later identified as Jehu Gonzalez, and provided them with his address.
Gonzalez later admitted to touching and engaging in sexual activity with the girl on several occasions and said they had a plan to get married. The documents state Gonzalez later said he knew the girl was only 14 years old and they were planning for her to be emancipated so they could be legally married.
At the hearing, the girl’s parents both urged Hudson to consider the recommendation proposed by the state. She said that she hopes the incident was an isolated lapse of judgment.
“I think people can change, but I think sometimes people need a little kick to do so,” the mother said.
When he returned with his decision to accept the recommendation, Hudson said that accepting the recommendation required an amount of mercy rarely seen in such cases.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.