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Latino Daily News

Thursday July 28, 2011

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Registered as Sex Offender for Sleeping with his Future Wife

LATINO BLOTTER: Man Registered as Sex Offender for Sleeping with his Future Wife

Photo: Frank Rodriguez is a registered sex offender for sleeping with his future

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Frank Rodriquez is a registered sex offender in the state of Texas, but both he and his wife say he’s been unfairly labeled a criminal.

In 1996, when Rodriguez was a senior in high school he met the girl who would become his wife. Nikki was a 15-year-old freshman at the time. Their relationship grew quickly and they became sexually active. Nikki confided in her mother, Melissa Ostman, that she was now sexually involved with Rodriguez.

There were a number of arguments between the mother and daughter, before the Ostman would take a drastic step that would alter the couple’s life forever.

Upset that Nikki was having sex, Ostman went to the police station and reported that the then 19-year-old Rodriguez was sleeping with her 15-year-old daughter. She intended to simply scare the young man, and the next day, went back to the station with her daughter intending to rescind her complaint. However, it was too late.

Nikki told police that the sex was consensual, but she was taken to the hospital to be examined for signs of rape.

Rodriguez was charged with statutory rape, and in order to avoid jail time, he pleaded guilty and received 7 years probation. He was also required to register as a sex offender.

Neither side of the couple realized that that label – “sex offender” – would follow Rodriguez for the rest of his life.

He has now been on the sex offender list for nearly half of his life. The couple is now married, and they have four daughters, ranging in age from 4 to 11.

They admit that they broke the law, and understand the reason for such laws, but Nikki told NBC News that the law “shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all.”

“I understand punishment, breaking the law,” Nikkie told Matt Lauer. “You have to be punished for it. But for the rest of your life? I think we’ve suffered long enough.”

Today, Rodriguez says he is unable to get a job at a major corporation due to his record, and because he is a registered sex offender he is not allowed to coach any of his daughters’ soccer teams.

When the couple appeared on NBC’sToday, they were joined by Robin Sax, a criminal defense attorney and former sex crimes prosecutor.

Image“I would say this is a mom who’s trying to use the legal system to parent instead of having a conversation,’’ Sax said. “Once you open that Pandora’s box of the legal system, there are consequences, and the consequence here has been a scarlet letter that’s following him and a case where no one would expect someone in this situation to be registered.’’

During Rodriguez’s probation, he was not allowed to go to swimming pools, football games, or any other places children might be present. He was not allowed to vote, and he was forced to attend counseling sessions for convicted sex offenders. He was also not permitted to see Nikki.

However, he says the worst part was not being allowed to live in the same house as his 12-year-old sister and Rodriguez was forced to leave his home.

During an interview with Marie Claire, Ostman said, “If I had known the implications, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Even after the couple reunited, married, and started a family, they still had to face the fear of his conviction. Rodriguez was still on probation when their first daughter was born, which meant he legally wasn’t allowed to live in the same home as her. Not wanting be split the family, he remained in the home to raise his daughter, but technically did so illegally.

Today, Frank and Nikki Rodriguez live in fear that people will keep their children away from them and their daughters because they’ve seen Rodriguez’s name on the sex offender registry.

“The idea behind the list is it’s supposed to show who the worst of the worst people are out there,’’ Sax said. “It’s a tool that we as parents use to protect our kids. It’s supposed to signify ‘This person is a danger to our society, watch out.’ When someone is looking at that list, they are not expecting Mr. Rodriguez to be there.’’

Currently, the Rodriguez family is waiting to see the outcome of modifications proposed to the Texas sex offender law. If the changes are approved, Rodriguez will have the opportunity to have his name removed the sex offender registry.