A Nobles County jury found Andres Mendoza-Hernandez, 48, of Worthington, guilty on Thursday of two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and one felony count of solicitation of a child.
According to a press release from the Office of the Nobles County Attorney, Mendoza-Hernandez was charged in June 2021 with one felony count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, alleging he engaged in sexual penetration with another person under the age of 13. Mendoza-Hernandez was also charged with a second count of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, alleging he engaged in sexual contact with a person under the age of 13. Mendoza-Hernandez was also charged with a third count alleging electronic solicitation of a child.
The criminal complaint says an 11-year-old girl -- the victim -- told the Worthington police that Mendoza-Hernandez sexually assaulted her when she was 6 or 7 years old. Mendoza-Hernandez had left the country for several years but recently returned to Worthington.
The victim participated in an interview at the Child Advocacy Center in Worthington. The victim told interviewers that Mendoza-Hernandez had sexually assaulted her two to three times per week while he was babysitting her. The victim confirmed Mendoza-Hernandez had shown her a pornographic video and told the victim he wanted her to perform those acts.
The trial began on March 16 at Prairie Justice Center in Worthington. Assistant County Attorney Braden Hoefert tried the case on behalf of Nobles County. The trial lasted approximately two days, with the case going to the jury around 3 p.m. March 17. The jury deliberated approximately two and a half hours before returning its verdict of guilty on all counts.
Mendoza-Hernandez will be sentenced in approximately four weeks. He faces up to 30 years imprisonment, a $40,000 fine, or both.
The Nobles County Attorney’s Office offered thanks in its press release to everyone who worked on this case, including the Child Advocacy Center, adding that it will continue to pursue justice for the county's youngest and most vulnerable residents.