A 21-year-old man accused of having sex with a young teen when she ran away from home to be with him admitted to a reduced charge after the girl recanted her story.
Jordan Joel Garcia of Kennewick pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.
A judge sentenced him to 120 days in jail with 244 days suspended. He had credit already for the four months behind bars.
Court documents said the girl's parents called Richland police in January to report that their daughter had stolen their vehicle and left home. Officers tried to find the stolen vehicle and the girl for several days without success, then got word from Garcia's family and friends that the two were together, documents said.
The vehicle eventually was found at the bus station, but Garcia and the girl still were missing.
When she later returned to her parents' home, police immediately contacted her to find out where she'd been. The girl reported having sexual contact with Garcia in Richland and at a hotel in Pasco, documents said.
Garcia originally was charged with third-degree rape of a child. He had no criminal history before this case, and the victim and her family agreed to the reduction so the girl would not have to testify at a trial and Garcia wouldn't be required to register as a sex offender.
Deputy Prosecutor Julie Long explained in a court document why she amended the charge. She said the victim recanted her original statement to police and, during an interview, said she had lied because she didn't have sex with Garcia.
"No other evidence exists that sexual contact occurred other than the victim's statement to law enforcement," Long wrote.
The girl also claimed Garcia told her she was too young to have a relationship with him and gave her a promise ring, asking her to wait for him until she got older, the document said.
When the girl's parents got a no-contact order against Garcia, his relatives allegedly told her he was moving on with his life. That's when the girl reportedly stole the car and went to Garcia's home, court document said.
Garcia also faces charges in Franklin County in connection with the incident, Long said in the document. So reducing the charge and giving Garcia credit for the time he's spent in jail holds him accountable for his actions, while also taking into consideration the fact the girl changed her mind and her parents' wish that she not face a jury, the document said.