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Sun, Sept. 22

Vaca must serve<BR>prison time for attempted assault

PRESCOTT – Jose Araujo Vaca will spend 3.5 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections after he recently pleaded guilty to one count of attempted sexual assault involving a 16-year-old Prescott High School student.

During the sentencing on Monday, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Janis Sterling sentenced the defendant to a presumptive term and gave him credit for 177 days he already served in the Yavapai County Jail.

He will have to pay the victim restitution not to exceed $25,000. Sterling also ordered that papers related to Vaca's conviction be forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security for immigration purposes.

A grand jury indicted Vaca on sexual assault and sexual conduct with a minor charges, which stem from an investigation involving a 16-year-old girl.

The Prescott police report says that on Feb. 27, the victim told an officer that an older Hispanic man, a friend of hers, had allegedly raped her three days earlier at Goldwater Lake after she asked him to pick her up from school.

Vaca told police that he picked up the victim and her other friends from the school, and after he dropped her friends off, the two of them went to the lake, the report says

Vaca denied the sexual assault allegations, but couldn't explain why the victim would make up the story. A medical exam revealed that the victim suffered acute trauma to her private parts, the report says.

On July 26, Vaca pleaded guilty to one count of attempted sexual assault, a Class 3 felony.

Before Sterling sentenced the defendant, the victim's parents told the judge about the hardships that the family has experienced since the incident happened.

"Our daughter was 16 when it happened and it has been a very painful experience for all of us," the stepfather said. "We do not wish something like this to happen to anyone. We would like to see this man get what he deserves."

The victim's mother said that she wishes the court would see this case in the way it deserves to be seen and that it makes sure that this doesn't happen to any other woman.

Vaca apologized to the victim and to her family.

"I never wanted to hurt anyone," he said, adding that he came to this country to make a better life for himself and his family. He said they are going through a very difficult economic crisis. He asked the judge to take that into account and place him on probation.

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com

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