URBANA — A Rantoul man who admitted he inappropriately touched a child in his care last year has been sentenced to four years of probation.
On Monday, Judge Heidi Ladd accepted Carlos Ramirez-Lopez’s guilty plea to aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving an incident with a 6-year-old girl in her home in early December.
The plea to the Class 2 felony headed off a retrial for the 26-year-old Rantoul man, who was acquitted by a jury in July of one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.
When the jury could not reach a verdict on a second count of predatory criminal sexual assault alleging a different sex act, Ladd declared a mistrial. The retrial had been scheduled to begin Monday.
If convicted of either of those Class X felonies, Ramirez-Lopez could have faced a prison term of between six and 60 years.
The penalties for aggravated criminal sexual abuse range from probation to three to seven years in prison.
Assistant State’s Attorney Bridget Schott said the plea was a good resolution given the “serious misgivings” of the jury in July.
“This way, we can ensure his conviction of a crime and he will have to register as a sex offender and not be able to have contact with this child again,” she said.
At the July trial, the primary evidence came from the girl, her mother, teachers and a forensic interviewer about what had allegedly happened to her, as well as Ramirez-Lopez’s vehement denials.
There was no physical evidence to bolster the state’s case, but Schott had argued that that was not surprising given that it wasn’t reported until a few days after it happened.
After the child told her mother, the mother confronted Ramirez-Lopez but did not contact police. That happened shortly after the child told teachers what had happened.
Ramirez-Lopez also pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence, admitting that on Sept. 30, 2018, he was driving drunk, with a blood-alcohol level of 0.21, when his car hit a concrete block near Maplewood and Eater drives in Rantoul. Schott said Rantoul police reported he had bloodshot and glassy eyes, smelled of alcohol and had open beer in his vehicle.
He was sentenced to 30 months of probation for the DUI, to be served at the same time as the sex-crime probation.
Ladd admonished Ramirez-Lopez, who communicated through a translator, that he could face deportation because of the convictions. He had no known prior convictions, Schott said.
Ladd set a sentencing-confirmation date of Nov. 18. By then, she should have a sex-offender evaluation of Ramirez-Lopez that will tell her if probation is an appropriate sentence.