Crime

Man pleads guilty to sexual assault of 2 teenage girls

A 38-year-old man could spend the rest of his life in prison after admitting that he sexually assaulted two teen girls.

Jesus Diaz Madrigal of Benton City pleaded guilty this week in Benton County Superior Court to one count each of first- and second-degree rape of a child.

As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dismissed another charge for rape of a child and two counts of second-degree child molestation involving other alleged victims.

"We're very satisfied with this plea. ... It's a good resolution for everybody," said Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra. "The case involves five girls that were scared about testifying (at trial), and this result is beneficial for everybody."

Petra said the key part of the plea agreement is that Madrigal admitted to two indeterminate violent sex offenses.

"There is a possibility that he will never get out of prison. That is why the state agreed to this plea agreement," she said.

The sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 27, when Petra said she will recommend 10 years in prison. However, that would be the minimum term on a potential life sentence.

Madrigal's ultimate release will be up to the state's Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, and will be based on his treatment and rehabilitation while behind bars and his risk level for re-offending.

Madrigal was arrested on a $100,000 nationwide warrant in September 2010 after sheriff's authorities learned he had left the state for Los Banos, Calif. He was held in a California jail until his extradition back to Benton County.

Prosecutors later added a rape charge involving a fifth victim, who only came forward and "disclosed horrific abuse" after learning of the initial case, Petra said.

Madrigal's then-wife, Sondra, was also charged in September 2010 for tampering with a witness. She was accused of threatening one of the teen victims to prevent the girl from cooperating with police and prosecutors or testifying at trial.

The case against Sondra Madrigal was dismissed a month later "after new facts were brought out," Petra said. The victim's family was in agreement with that decision, she added.

Since Jesus Madrigal is now convicted of a serious sex offense, he is being held without bail in the Benton County jail until sentencing.

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