CEDAR CITY — A 22-year-old Mexican national accused of soliciting sex from multiple employees at a supermarket in Enoch more than four months ago has been sentenced to seven months in jail.
Abelomar Perez, also referred to in court documents as Abelomar Perez de Ita, was sentenced Monday in Cedar City’s 5th District Court by Judge Matthew L. Bell. Bell ordered Perez to serve a total of 210 days in the Iron County Jail, giving him credit for the 129 days he’d served since his arrest on June 12.
According to a probable cause statement filed in support of his arrest, Perez had entered the small grocery store on three separate occasions that day, each time soliciting a different female employee for sex.
Perez reportedly showed each of the employees a translated text message on his phone that stated he would pay the females between $400 and $1,000 if they would have sex with him, according to the charging documents.
In each instance, the female employees, two of whom were under 18 years of age, rebuffed the man’s request and reported the incident to their supervisor or the store owner. After also notifying police, the employees were told to call dispatch again if the man returned again to the store.
Later that evening about 8 p.m., Perez reportedly returned to the area and was detained by police following a traffic stop.
Perez was booked into jail later that night on suspicion of two counts of sexual solicitation of a child, a third-degree felony; one count of sexual solicitation, a class A misdemeanor; one count of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a class B misdemeanor; and operating a vehicle without a valid driver license, an infraction.
The probable cause document states that as he was being booked, Perez was heard to comment in Spanish, “All this for asking a question.”
Prior to Monday’s sentencing, three of the five charges against Perez had been dropped in exchange for his guilty plea to the two remaining charges: one count of sexual solicitation of a child and the DUI count.
Perez who made his court appearance via videoconference, had the assistance of an interpreter, since he speaks little or no English.
During Monday’s hearing, Perez’s defense attorney Jeremy Snow complained that his client had already served more time in jail than the sentencing guidelines suggest.
“Frankly, that just seems excessive,” Snow told the court. “It appears he’s being punished for his immigration status and not for the crime for which he’s pled guilty.”
However, prosecuting attorney Sam Woodall later responded by saying: “The reason for the departure from the recommended matrix has absolutely nothing to do with this defendant’s immigration status. Rather, it is for the multiple and intentional attempts to solicit sex from females, two of them being minors.”
Woodall added that the three employees had each suffered psychological harm because of Perez’s actions.
Snow said his client didn’t realize the two girls were minors.
“He made no attempt to target juveniles and did not know they were juveniles at the time,” Snow said. “When they said no, he immediately didn’t pressure or make any attempts to coerce them.”
Ultimately, Bell ordered that Perez remain incarcerated for nearly three more months, although he did waive any associated fines or fees, noting that it’s likely that Perez will face deportation by immigration officials after he’s released from jail.
Bell also ordered that Perez be placed under supervised probation for three years following his release from jail, but noted that the probation would also be terminated if he is deported back to Mexico.
Following the sentencing, Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson told Cedar City News, “Women in Iron County, especially minors, must be free from harassment, sexual solicitation and vulgar propositions from men in the workplace.”
“I hope this defendant has learned a lesson, and I hope that the victims can put this in their rearview mirror and move forward,” Dotson added.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.