ST. GEORGE – A St. George man was sentenced Wednesday to serve time in prison on charges stemming from the sexual abuse of a woman with Down syndrome.
Rodney Ben Trujillo, 49, appeared in 5th District Court with attorney Trevor Terry Wednesday afternoon to learn his fate in the wake of pleading guilty to felony charges of forcible sexual sodomy and sexual abuse. He pleaded guilty to the charges in January. An additional charge of aggravating kidnapping was dismissed by the court.
“This is a hard case, obviously because of the subject matter,” Terry said as he addressed Judge Michael G. Westfall.
Deputy Washington County Attorney Zachary Weiland said the victim thought Trujillo loved her and that they were going to get married. He also asked the woman what her favorite TV show was, and she replied it was “Spongebob Squarepants.”
Weiland also indicated during the hearing that Trujillo and the woman apparently knew each prior to the October 2015 incident.
“I’m very, very remorseful for what I’ve done,” Trujillo told the court, adding he wished he had the chance to go back and fix what had happened. “I feel very bad,” he said.
According to court documents from October 2015, Trujillo took the 20-year-old woman with Down syndrome into a travel trailer where they viewed pornography and engaged in sexual touching.
Trujillo subsequently kept the woman hidden from friends and family who were trying to find her, and told her not to tell anyone about the incident.
Police became involved after being called to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George where the woman was examined following the incident.
Terry said the “forcible” aspect of the charges stemming from the case were related more to a person of diminished mental capacity not being being able to give consent rather than an actual act of force or violence.
Terry said he believed probation combined with mental health and sex offense treatment would benefit his client more than his being sent to prison. He also noted that, despite a pre-existing criminal history largely involving theft, this was the first time Trujillo had committed a sex offense.
Westfall sentenced Trujillo to serve a minimum of five years to life in prison, but also recommended that sex offender treatment be made available to the man and that he be given six-months credit for time already served in jail since his arrest.
Trujillo began to tremble once Westfall pronounced his sentence.
Weiland told the court that the victim has since been taken into state custody as officials believe she isn’t adequately protected in her home, as the incident occurred while her mother was in a treatment facility at the time.
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