Following a two-day jury trial in Twin Falls, former Lincoln County Sheriff Rene Rodriguez was found not guilty Wednesday of sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl.
The felony charge of sexual abuse of a minor under 16 was based on an alleged incident that occurred in 1998.
Charges were brought against Rodriguez in Twin Falls County through a grand jury indictment on Oct. 9. At the same time, Rodriguez was facing six sex-related felony charges in Blaine County that were filed through a grand jury in April. In the Blaine County case, a jury found him guilty on all six counts following a four-day trial in November. There, Rodriguez was convicted of sexually abusing his adopted daughter when she was between 9 and 17. He is scheduled for sentencing in that case on March 20, at which time he could face a maximum of life in prison.
The Twin Falls trial was presided over by the same judge who heard the Blaine County case, 5th District Judge Ned Williamson. The case was also prosecuted by the same deputy Idaho attorney general who prosecuted the Blaine County charges, Kristina Schindele. Rodriguez was represented by Twin Falls attorneys Greg Jackson Fuller and Daniel Stephen Brown. In the Blaine County case, Rodriguez was represented by the Blaine County Public Defender’s Office.
In January 2019, the Idaho Attorney General’s Office began investigating Rodriguez after the victim in the Blaine County case came forward with her allegations. According to court testimony from the victim during the trial, she did so after being told by another family member that her little sister, 12, was sleeping in the same bed as Rodriguez.
The Blaine County indictment and subsequent trial highlighted six separate instances between 2005 and 2014 during which the victim was sexually abused by Rodriguez across the multiple homes that they lived in throughout that period. Some incidents occurred in Bellevue, while Rodriguez was serving as a deputy for the city between 2007 and 2013, first under a contract with the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, then later by a contract with the Hailey Police Department. Following his tenure in Blaine County, Rodriguez began working for the Shoshone Police Department and was elected sheriff of Lincoln County in 2016—a position from which he resigned following his arrest in April.