8 years for sexual contact with child under 16

Brookings County Sheriff's Office photo

BROOKINGS – A Brookings man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for having sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl in April 2020.

Norberto Rodriguez, 27, pleaded guilty in April 2021 to sexual contact with a child under 16. He appeared in Brookings County Circuit Court on Tuesday for sentencing.

Court documents say the abuse happened at a residence in the 300 block of Medary Avenue South, where the defendant and victim were both living at the time.

In exchange for Rodriguez’s guilty plea, all other charges were dismissed, and no further charges will be brought against him. The State deferred to the court for sentencing.

Sexual contact with a child under 16 is a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

At sentencing this week, defense attorney Jennifer Goldammer noted that Rodriguez had no prior criminal history and was an appropriate candidate for probation with a low risk to re-offend. Her client won’t stay in this area and intends to go back to Minnesota, and he has the ability to work and follow rules, she said.

Goldammer requested probation with credit for time served and said Rodriguez could later request a suspended sentence.

Circuit Judge Greg Stoltenburg said that Rodriguez’s pre-sentence investigation report shows that “you still don’t believe that you did anything wrong.” 

The judge said Rodriguez minimized his involvement, his actions, and their criminality.

“You do blame the victim,” Stoltenburg said, noting that Rodriguez was 26 and the victim was 13 at the time of the offense. 

The judge noted that the defendant had no prior criminal history, but said he needs to consider punishment and deterrence. 

“What you did was wrong,” Stoltenburg said. “You’ll struggle until you get that through your head.”

Stoltenburg then sentenced Rodriguez to eight years in the state penitentiary, with credit for 487 days of pretrial detention.

Rodriguez must pay court-appointed attorney fees, $500 fine and court costs, and $1,800 for his psychosexual evaluation. He must remain law abiding, follow the rules and regulations of the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles, and follow all sex offender registry laws. He was then remanded to custody for transport to the state penitentiary.

“This case presented challenges, but those were overcome by the young victim’s courage, “ Brookings County State’s Attorney Dan Nelson said. “Most of these types of cases are not reported to law enforcement, and that unfortunately is the reality we live in. I think the prison sentence sends the right message to Mr. Rodriguez, and the victim can now move forward with closure and healing.”

Contact Jill Fier at [email protected]