Public Safety

53-year-old Cedar Rapids man pleads guilty to sexually abusing 13-year-old girl

He faces up to 5 years in prison

Ruben Vega
Ruben Vega

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 53-year-old man pleaded guilty Friday to a lesser sexual abuse charge involving a girl, who was 13-years-old when the incidents happened over a course of a year.

Ruben Vega, originally charged with five counts of second-degree sexual abuse, pleaded to an additional charge of lascivious acts with a child. Instead of facing up to 25 years on each sexual abuse charge, he now faces up to five years in prison for this plea.

Vega admitted during the hearing that he inflicted “pain or discomfort” to the 13-year-old girl to satisfy his sexual desire between Aug. 20, 2014 and Aug. 18, 2015 at a residence in Marion.

A criminal complaint shows the girl at age 15 told investigators that between August 2006 and August 2010, Vega sexually abused her multiple times. Authorities said the girl’s mother confronted Vega about the allegations.

“I’m a twisted man. I should just turn myself in. Am I going to prison?” the complaint says Vega told the mother.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks declined to explain the reason for the plea agreement “out of respect for the victim.” He did say he discussed the plea with the girl, now 16, and her parents before it was made.

Maybanks told The Gazette last year in another article on the difficulties of prosecuting child sexual abuse that sometime the best resolution may not be a trial. If there’s a plea, a child doesn’t have to testify and tell strangers and a judge intimate details of how “their childhood is stolen.”

“It’s more important to me that we’ve helped a child,” Maybanks said in that previous article. “That’s a bigger victory than putting away a person for more time.”

Anastasia Basquin, victim/witness coordinator with the Linn County Attorney’s Office, said the girl and her mother, who attended the hearing, “didn’t wish to make a statement” after the hearing.

Mark Brown, Vega’s lawyer, during the hearing, said he will ask the sentencing judge for a deferred judgment but realizes it will be up to the discretion of the judge.

Maybanks said he will argue for prison time.

6th Judicial District Chief Judge Patrick Grady said Vega faces up to five years in prison but he would be eligible for a deferred judgment or probation. A judge could also fine Vega $750 to $7,500, order a five year no contact order and he will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years and serve a special sentence of parole for 10 years after any prison time.

District Judge Ian Thornhill previously denied Vega access to the girl’s confidential medical, mental health and school records.

Brown argued the girl had changed schools multiple times and had issues with harming herself, and he argued those records could be relevant in this case.

Maybanks argued against opening the records, saying the defense has information about her mental health, which she talked about in the depositions, and she repeatedly said she didn’t tell anyone about the abuse.

Thornhill said the depositions of the girl and her mother don’t show the records would contain information that the defense couldn’t gain from any other source, as it claimed.

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