Crime

This persistent Tri-Cities criminal is going away for life for molesting a young girl

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A convicted sex offender is going away for life after pleading guilty to his latest crime involving a grade-school girl.

Joe L. Reyes Jr., 52, recently admitted to one count of first-degree child molestation in Franklin County Superior Court. A second charge for first-degree child rape was dismissed.

Deputy Prosecutor Maureen Astley made sure that Reyes understood his only sentencing option with the plea is life without the possibility of parole.

That’s because Reyes falls under Washington’s persistent offender law because of his criminal history. His sentencing is scheduled June 25. He remains in the Franklin County jail.

As part of the plea agreement, Astley said she will not file charges against him for failing to register as a sex offender or having a weapon as an inmate.

reyes.jpg
Joe L. Reyes Jr. pleaded guilty to molesting a grade-school girl. Reyes, pictured talking to attorney Peyman Younesi, will be sentenced to life in prison under Washington’s persistent offender law. Noelle Haro-Gomez Tri-City Herald

Reyes has prior convictions in Washington state for manufacturing/delivering drugs, unlawful issuance of bank checks, burglary, taking a vehicle, failing to register as a sex offender and willful failure to return from work release.

He also has a second-degree rape conviction from 2001 in Umatilla, Ore., according to court documents.

In the recent case, Pasco police were called in July 2018 after the girl disclosed to her mother what had happened to her in 2014.

The girl gave specific details about Reyes sexually assaulting her on three different occasions, documents said.

When interviewed by police, Reyes denied the allegations.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.

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