WORTHINGTON — A Worthington teenager was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted by jury of unlawfully having sexual contact with two 13-year-old girls during summer 2018.

Generson Ruiz-Lainez, 19, was sentenced Wednesday in Nobles County District Court in what was termed a "unique" case that involved perjury. His deportation is imminent, Judge Terry Vajgrt said during Wednesday's emotional proceedings.

"There's nothing I can do to stop you from being deported," Vajgrt said.

Simply placing him on probation — which was requested by the defense — wouldn't allow him to receive needed treatment due to being identified as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement priority, Vajgrt said.

"The children in El Salvador are no less vulnerable or precious than the children in the United States," Vajgrt said of the risk of allowing him to go untreated.

It was claimed in court that one of Ruiz-Lainez's victims had been a girlfriend of his, which was "supported by the family."

Ruiz-Lainez's defense attorney, Phillip Elbert, asked the court to depart from the presumptive sentence, noting that had the offense occurred just a few weeks prior, the teenager with no previous criminal record would have been 17 years old.

"If this happened a few weeks earlier the court would have been required to give him a stayed sentence," Elbert said, noting that an expert determined he was at low risk for re-offending.

If subtracting weeks from Ruiz-Lainez's age was going to be acceptable, the same could be done for the victims, who prosecutor Matthew Loeffler said were "barely" 13.

Loeffler said in a unique situation, Ruiz-Lainez was warned by a law enforcement officer that the relationship was unlawful in the state of Minnesota and advised him to end it. During his trial, Ruiz-Lainez decided to testify, and he lied under oath, Loeffler said.

"There's no reason to believe he's particularly amenable to probation," Loeffler said, adding that he has no respect to authority. "Whether its law enforcement or your honors, it doesn't mean anything to the defendant."

Wednesday's sentencing included character testimony by Ruiz-Lainez's stepfather, who asked for his young stepson to be given a second chance.

"I believe in this country every person deserves a second opportunity," he said with assistance from a courtroom interpreter. "I know if you allow him to get out of here, he is going to be changed and a better person."

A District 518 ESL teacher and former paraprofessional also submitted character references to the court for review. The correspondence notes a positive experience with Ruiz-Lainez in the classroom. They identified him as wonderful, respectful, kind, non-violent and goal-driven.

Throughout a tearful statement to the court, Ruiz-Lainez said he feels physically and emotionally bad for what he did. He asked the court to have mercy on him.

"I'm still young and have goals to complete," he said. "I'm really regretful and repentful. I will do my best to follow the rules."

Vajgrt said he doesn't punish Ruiz-Lainez for exercising his right to a jury trial.

"But you do not have a right to take the stand and commit perjury, and that's what happened here," he said.

Ruiz-Lainez was sentenced to prison time for each of the five convictions. The sentences will run concurrently — the longest five years. With good time credit, he may serve just more than three years in prison, and the remaining on supervised release. He was given 342 days credit for time served. He'll be on conditional release for the remaining of his life. He was ordered to register as a predatory offender.

The Southwest Crisis Center is available in our community to support and empower survivors of sexual and domestic violence. For questions about services or how you can help contact the Southwest Crisis Center at 800-376-4311 or mnswcc.org