GREENFIELD — A Greenfield man who admitted to sexually assaulting a girl agreed to a plea deal on a lesser charge after backing out of his original agreement with prosecutors, records state.
Weeks after telling a judge he wanted to take his case to trial, Francisco Mendoza Gaytan, 38, accepted a new plea agreement with prosecutors — the second such document he’s signed since his arrest. The agreement calls for him to plead guilty to one of five sexual assault-related felonies he faced and serve the maximum sentence of 20 years.
The document, read allowed in Hancock County Superior Court 1 this week by Judge Terry Snow, states Mendoza Gaytan pleads guilty to a Class B felony count of sexual misconduct with a minor. Snow will have the final say on where and how the accompanying 20-year sentence will be served.
Mendoza Gaytan returns to court for formal sentencing next month, when Snow will hear arguments from prosecutors and the man’s defense attorney.
The victim in the case came forward late last year to tell investigators Mendoza Gaytan had repeatedly touched her inappropriately and forced her to engage in sex acts over a number of years, court documents state.
The girl told police she had been afraid to report the crimes because she worried about how the allegations would impact her family, court documents state. Eventually, she confided in friends, who encouraged her to seek help and report what had happened to her, court documents state.
Prosecutors charged Mendoza Gaytan in November with five sexual assault felony counts, including one Class A felony charge of child molesting and one Class B felony charge of sexual misconduct with a minor, records show.
In March, he signed – then later backed out of – an agreement from prosecutors.
Officials said the original deal gave the judge more discretion over the defendant’s future: Mendoza Gaytan had agreed to plead guilty to the Class A felony count of child molesting, and the judge would have decided how the defendant would spend his sentence, with no more than 30 years in prison.
The maximum penalty for a Class A felony is 50 years in prison.
When Mendoza Gaytan came to court in April to finalize the agreement, he told his attorney he no longer wanted to go through with it. In response, Snow set the case for trial but told Prosecutor Catherine Wilson and defense attorney Tyler Brant of Shelbyville he would accept a new plea deal if a compromise could be reached.
A month later, a new agreement was filed, and Mendoza Gaytan appeared in court Wednesday and pleaded guilty under the new terms.
During the hearing, he admitted to abusing the girl.
The 20-year sentence spelled out in the plea agreement is the maximum penalty allotted for the Class B felony.
Wilson and Brant will argue before Snow in July about where the time will be served — in prison, on probation or in a low-security community corrections program. No matter where Mendoza Gaytan serves his time, he will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, officials said. He remains barred from contacting the victim, court records state.
The defendant is not currently in police custody. He posted a $6,000 cash bond in January, records show.
A judge will decide how Francisco Gaytan Mendoza will spend a 20-year sentence he has agreed to serve for the sexual abuse of a young girl, court records state.
Charge: Sexual misconduct with a minor, a Class B felony
Sentencing: 1:30 p.m. July 26
Court: Hancock County Superior Court 1
Counsel: Hancock County Prosecutor Catherine Wilson; defense attorney Tyler Brant of Shelbyville
Proceedings are open to the public.