Fifth District Judge Ned Williamson agreed to a motion by the defense to postpone a jury trial for former Lincoln County Sheriff Rene Rodriguez, 40, of Shoshone.
Rodriguez faces seven felony charges of sexual abuse of a minor under 16, lewd conduct with a minor under 16 and rape. At a motion hearing Monday, Rodriguez’s defense attorney, Cheri Hicks, argued that there was still evidence and discovery of the case being received, meaning additional time would be needed to properly prepare for a trial.
A jury trial was originally scheduled to begin Aug. 6. A pretrial conference is now scheduled for Oct. 7 and a four-day jury trial for Oct. 29 through Nov. 1.
A second motion heard Monday was also granted amending a no-contact order between Rodriguez and his four children, to allow him to have supervised visitation rights once a week and phone conversations three times a week. Hicks implored the judge to amend the order, saying “this situation is absolutely destroying” her client, who had not seen or spoken with his children since his arrest April 5.
Williamson agreed to amend the no-contact order after seeing video footage of Rodriguez’s mother’s home, where the supervised visitations will take place. The meetings will be monitored by Rodriguez’s mother and sister, who both testified under oath that they would be with Rodriguez the entire three-hour period once a week that he can be with his children and would ensure their safety. Williamson emphasized that Rodriguez is not to discuss his criminal case with any of his children, per court order.
Rodriguez was indicted by a grand jury on April 5 after four witnesses testified. At the conclusion of the hearing, Rodriguez was charged with one count of sexual abuse of a minor under 16, four counts of lewd conduct with a minor under 16 and two counts of rape. Three of the four counts of lewd conduct with a minor under 16 are alleged to have occurred in Blaine County, where Rodriguez was a sheriff’s deputy between December 2004 and September 2011, according to the indictment. According to the Sheriff’s Office, he resigned voluntarily from his position as deputy. He was elected sheriff of Lincoln County in 2016 and resigned from his position following his arrest in April.
According to the grand jury indictment, the first charge
of sexual abuse of a minor is alleged to
have occurred bet-ween Aug. 12, 2005, and Aug. 11, 2006, when the alleged victim was 9. The charges of lewd conduct with a minor under 16 are alleged to have occurred when the alleged victim was 11, 12 and 13 years old. The two rape charges are alleged to have occurred when the alleged victim was 17. If convicted, Rodriguez could face multiple life sentences.
Rodriguez has been out on a $100,000 surety bond since April 18, after Williamson agreed to lower the bond at a hearing on April 15, when Hicks successfully argued that her client had strong ties to the community. Williamson agreed to reduce the bond from $500,000 after learning that the defendant knew he was under investigation prior to his arrest in April. Rodriguez told the court in April that he had known of the investigation since Jan. 29.