A New Jersey man accused of sexual assault by six women was reportedly released by a judge earlier this year on time served — enraging the mother of one victim who called the measly sentence “not even a slap on the wrist.”
The accusations against Eridson Rodriguez, 26, had stacked up quickly in September 2020, which is when two young women accused him of sexually assaulting them while they were drunk and incapacitated during gatherings at his home in Hamilton, New Jersey about a year earlier, NJ.com reported.
Authorities charged Rodriguez with four counts of felony sex assault after a year-long investigation. Once they announced the case, four other women came forward and said Rodriguez had sexually assaulted them, as well.
A judge sent him to jail ahead of his trial, and prosecutors brought a 20-count indictment that included two charges of aggravated sexual assault of a helpless victim, according to the news outlet.
But in February, he took a plea deal on a single charge of aggravated criminal sexual contact. That allowed him to walk on “time served” — meaning the 882 days he had already spent behind bars was enough.
He is still required to register on the state’s sex offender list and will be on parole for the rest of his life – a result of the single charge of aggravated criminal sexual contact to which he pleaded guilty, NJ.com said.
But that’s not nearly enough for the mom of one of the alleged victims, who told the newspaper that she “can’t believe how little justice was served.”
“This has caused a lot of pain, and I still can’t believe how little justice was served for these young women,” said the furious mother, who NJ.com did not identify because it would effectively name her daughter.
“It takes my breath away,” she said, adding that one of Rodriguez’s accusers saw the convicted sex offender at a bar between his February guilty plea and his June sentencing.
“It makes me feel like we haven’t evolved, that women are not important in the state of New Jersey.”
Rodriguez’s attorney, Robin Lord, told the paper that the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office bungled the case by asking for other people with similar allegations to come forward. When they did, she said, the accusations didn’t hold up.
Her client also reportedly wanted to reject the plea deal but reconsidered.
“He wanted to go to trial, but he also wanted to get out of jail, so he compromised,” Lord said.
Neither the prosecutor’s office nor the prosecutor who handled the case commented to NJ.com.
But the accuser’s mom told the website that she doesn’t blame the prosecutor, who did his “level best” with what he had. Still, she worries because Rodriguez isn’t listed on the internet registry, possibly because of the offender tier he’s in.
Prosecutors need more tools to attack such cases, she said.
“Women matter. Young girls matter,” she said. “They do not get enough justice.”
Read the full article here