A Tennessee school bus driver has been sentenced to only serve probation after he pleaded guilty to raping a 15-year-old student as she allegedly cried “No!”
Alexander Rodriguez, 35, was sentenced Friday to a four-year suspended sentence and 10 years probation for the sexual assault that took place last March. When a judge questioned the lack of prison time, his lawyer volunteered that Rodriguez had already served 100 days, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
“We were immediately turned off by the fact that there was no jail time,” the girl’s father told the newspaper. “There was nothing else we could do. I’m disappointed that somebody that commits a crime sexually, especially against a child, gets treated like a DUI.”
“Like you can just go to classes or you can just be supervised and that’s punishment enough,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office told The Daily Beast that prosecutors could only charge Rodriguez with sex with a minor instead of sexual assault because the girl declined to testify against him at trial—and a statutory rape conviction would’ve been lighter than the plea deal.
“It’s mandatory that he be given alternative sentencing” for a first felony conviction in Tennessee, Melydia Clewell told The Daily Beast. (Rodriguez has two felony convictions in New Jersey, for drugs and the unlawful possession of a weapon.)
“He actually received a higher sentence than he would’ve if he had gone to trial and been convicted, because the maximum would’ve been four years of monitored supervised probation,” she added.
Rodriguez must also register as a sex offender for what he did inside a school bus he drove on March 4, 2015.
A teenager’s worried parents contacted police when she didn’t come home on March 4, 2015, according to an affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast. She had boarded a school bus driven by Rodriguez and rode with him to the bus depot at the end of his route. The young woman told police that they then rode in his car to a motel, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him.
“She stated that she told Rodriguez no,” the affidavit states. “She stated Rodriguez forced her legs apart and forcibly had vaginal intercourse with her. She also stated she was telling him no.”
The teenager said she told Rodriguez she was in pain during intercourse and he allegedly replied, “I’m trying to make it hurt.”
While they were at the motel, Rodriguez received a call asking if he knew anything about the missing girl. She told police that he then drove her back, and she had to walk an hour to get home.
Rodriguez originally denied knowing anything about her when confronted by police, according to the affidavit. When they asked about taking the student to a motel, Rodriguez asked for an attorney.
The girl’s family filed a $10 million civil suit against the driver in March for emotional damage and lost wages.