WORTHINGTON — Concluding a four-year legal process, a Worthington man was sentenced Monday afternoon to 12 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Otto Rene Gonzalez-Bautista, 38, was accused in January 2015 of sexual penetration of a minor under 13. The criminal complaint states that according to the victim, Gonzalez-Bautista repeatedly touched her inappropriately and forced her to watch pornography from September 2012 to November 2014, when the victim was aged 4 to 7. Gonzalez-Bautista had known the victim's family for years prior to the accusation.
Throughout the lengthy court process, Gonzalez-Bautista maintained his innocence. However, he was found guilty in a jury trial on two counts — first-degree criminal sexual conduct, penetration of a person under 13; and second-degree criminal sexual conduct, sexual contact with a person under 13.
Both the defense and the prosecution suggested during Monday's sentencing that Gonzalez-Bautista only be adjudicated and sentenced for the first count, as it is impossible for penetration to occur without also having sexual contact. Fifth Judicial District Judge Gordon Moore agreed with the assessment and sentenced Gonzalez-Bautista accordingly.
The court had ordered a psycho-sexual evaluation that had not yet been completed by the time of Monday's court appearance. Such assessments help inform courts as to whether an alternative measure to prison might be appropriate in a sexual offender case. However, the prosecution and Moore agreed that since Gonzalez-Bautista maintained his innocence throughout the entire court proceedings, a psycho-sexual evaluation would not reveal any additional information. As such, the court waived the evaluation.
A representative from the Southwest Crisis Center read a victim impact statement on behalf of the victim's mother.
"This made me feel like the worst mother," the mother wrote. She added that she felt guilty for having trusted Gonzalez-Bautista with her child and, following the incidents, struggled to trust anyone, constantly haunted by thoughts of other things that could happen.
The victim's mother also described in her statement the difficulty she had had communicating with the victim as a result of the actions of Gonzalez-Bautista.
"She was scared of me and everyone else," according to the mother, who reported that she had to show her daughter over a period of years that she could be trusted and that not everyone was out to hurt her.
Gonzalez-Bautista also had a family friend speak on his behalf. The friend described Gonzalez-Bautista as "upstanding," and described how he financially supports his daughter, who lives in Guatemala.
"I believe that Otto did not do this," the friend said.
Gonzalez-Bautista's attorney clarified that Gonzalez-Bautista "vehemently maintains his innocence in the strongest possible sense."
Gonzalez-Bautista also spoke for himself to the court, using an interpreter.
"(People) told me, 'The United States is a free state and a land of opportunities,'" he said. He noted that he had trusted the judicial system to find him innocent and was dissatisfied with the verdict.
Moore explained to Gonzalez-Bautista that he had been given a fair trial, and after considering the evidence, a jury had found him guilty; therefore, the court was obligated to act in accordance with the verdict and deliver a sentence.
Moore also addressed the victim and her family.
"It is my hope that with the conclusion of this case, you can find the strength to move forward in a positive way," he told them. He also encouraged them to continue attending therapy to work through their trauma.
Moore then sentenced Gonzalez-Bautista to 144 months in prison, with possibility of up to 48 months as supervised release. The sentence also comes with a conditional release period of 10 years following Gonzalez-Bautista's prison time.
Gonzalez-Bautista said that he intends to appeal his case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.