Rene Rodriguez, a former Lincoln County sheriff, was convicted of six counts of sex-related felonies on a minor following a four-day jury trial and a five-hour deliberation on Friday night. Rodriguez could serve the rest of his life in prison if given the maximum punishment.
The jury trial in 5th District Court in Hailey, which began on Nov. 19, included testimony from the victim, who jurors established was sexually abused by Rodriguez between the ages of 9 and 17. Rodriguez was convicted on all of the six counts he was indicted on by a grand jury in April: one count of sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 16, four counts of lewd conduct with a minor, and one count of rape, when the victim was 17 years old.
During her testimony on Wednesday, the victim initially described a normal childhood with Rodriguez teaching her, his adopted daughter, how to read at his auto-body shop. However, when the victim was 9, after the birth of her youngest sister, the victim stated that the first incident of “inappropriate contact” occurred.
“I wasn't completely sure this was how a father and daughter had contact with each other,” the victim said in court.
That first incident was reported to her mother, according to the state's leading prosecutor, Kristina Schindele. For the next nine years, the victim continued to be sexually abused on at least five other occasions, with the last incident of rape occurring roughly a month before her high-school graduation, according to Schindele.
During his testimony, Rodriguez said it made him sick to his stomach to be accused of such crimes, individually denying each charge when questioned by his defense attorney, Cheri Hicks.
Sentencing has been scheduled for March 20.
Rodriguez also faces a felony charge in Twin Falls County, sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 16, which allegedly occurred in 1998, when the alleged victim was 4 years old. In that case, Rodriguez is scheduled for a hearing in March.