A man who volunteered as a tutor at a Madison middle school and continually propositioned pre-teen girls for sex and nude photos was sentenced Thursday to seven years of probation, with one year to be spent in jail.
Elimelec Medina-Lopez, 20, of Fall River, told Dane County Circuit Judge Susan Crawford that he made “serious mistakes that I’m not proud of” by propositioning 11- and 12-year-old girls who were students at Wright Middle School, 1717 Fish Hatchery Road, for whom he had been a tutor through the Schools of Hope program with the Madison Urban League.
Crawford responded that Medina-Lopez was correct in saying what he did was serious, and “disturbing” that he used his position of authority as the girls’ tutor to coerce sexual activity and nude photos from them, recorded in social media chat conversations located by police.
But it was no mistake, Crawford said. Instead, it was an intentional, concerted campaign of manipulation, including the threat to withhold his tutoring services if the girls did not do as he demanded.
Medina-Lopez was originally charged in June with first-degree sexual assault of a child after a 12-year-old girl told police that he had grabbed her buttocks at school in March 2018. Under a plea agreement in which prosecutors said they would not seek prison time, Medina-Lopez pleaded guilty to causing mental harm to a child, a felony, and fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor.
Telling Medina-Lopez that the state had given him a break, Crawford agreed to impose seven years of probation as recommended by Assistant District Attorney William Brown and Erik Colque, who represented Medina-Lopez. She agreed with Brown, though, to add a year in jail as a condition of probation. She said he may serve it in the Columbia County Jail.
Medina-Lopez will be listed on the state Sex Offender Registry while he is on probation.
Brown said time in jail would impress upon Medina-Lopez the seriousness of what he did, and would hopefully keep him from doing it again. He also asked for severe restrictions on Medina-Lopez’s access to the internet. Before the internet, Brown said, men with a sexual interest in children would find victims by hanging around outside middle schools in a white van, handing out candy.
“(The internet) is the white van handing out candy of this age,” Brown said.
None of the girls was in court Thursday, but one wrote in a victim impact statement that after Medina-Lopez touched her at school, she had trouble focusing in school and sleeping, but resists getting therapy because she’s uncomfortable talking about the situation.
“I’m scared to have friends because they may have dirty thoughts like him,” she added.
Colque said Medina-Lopez is a high school graduate who was attending Madison College, and though he has been kicked out now, he’s hoping to return to school someday. He had no prior criminal record.
While Medina-Lopez takes full responsibility, Colque said, he did not fully discuss details of his crimes with a state probation officer writing a pre-sentence report because that information could have “immigration consequences” for Medina-Lopez, who came to the U.S. with his family at age 13. He works 50 hours a week at a job, Colque said, and is very involved with his church, which is aware of his case.
“He knows he made a terrible decision with these girls,” Colque said.