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Just-Convicted Child Rapist Released From Jail On Accident

A violent sex offender was released from jail by mistake.

Merced, CA – A series of unfortunate “mistakes” resulted in a convicted child molester being released from jail. And nobody knew about it for eight days.

Primitivo Gonzalez, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible lewd acts upon a child, and one count of lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under 14 years of age.

The offenses were violent sex crimes carrying felony strike convictions, according to Merced County Superior Court records.

Gonzalez was facing 25 to 38 years in prison when his sentencing hearing was scheduled for Dec. 21.

Judge Jeanne Schecter ordered him held without bail in the Merced County Jail after his plea, according to the Merced Sun-Star.

But that’s when something went wrong.

Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke described the incident as “our screw-up,” and took responsibility for what happened.

“It was human error on the part of a clerk who didn’t realize there was a second minute order,” Sheriff Warnke said.

Minute orders are court records that include orders from judges regarding bail amounts, and other details related to a defendant’s case.

Sheriff Warnke initially told the Merced Sun-Star that deputies discovered the mistake “within hours” of Gonzalez’s mistake, and later acknowledged that was incorrect, and called it “another mistake.”

He said he found out Gonzalez was missing after deputies called him, and said he assumed Gonzalez had only been missing for hours when he was notified.

The Sheriff’s Office only learned that Gonzalez was missing only after Deputy District Attorney Katie Gates called them on Nov. 30, and advised deputies that he had posted bail despite of the judge’s order.

“Finding out [from Gates] was when we became aware that anything was wrong. Because it appeared he’d bailed out properly, we didn’t know a mistake had been made until [Gates] notified us,” Sheriff Warnke said.

Gates said that she was contacted by a family member of the victim who told her Gonzalez was no longer in custody.

Gonzalez molested a young female family member beginning when the victim was five-years-old, and continued for four years. Police said that Gonzalez threatened to beat the child if she told her parents about the abuse.

Gates said she was “shocked,” and “thought at first the family was mistaken,” according to the Merced Sun-Star.

Sheriff Warnke said there was a problem with their systems, and said that checks and balances had been put in place to prevent this from happening again.

“I sincerely apologize to the victim’s family. There’s just no legitimate excuse for this,” he said.

The sheriff said that Gonzalez and his brother knew it was an error, and took advantage of it.

Sheriff Warnke told the Merced Sun-Star that the community wasn’t notified sooner about Gonzalez’s release “because we knew he already was out of the country, we knew he wasn’t going to commit any crimes in our community.”

Although Gonzalez was missing for eight days before the Merced County Sheriff’s Office discovered the situation, the public was not informed that he was missing until Dec. 7 when the Merced Sun-Star contacted the Sheriff’s Office for comment.

Gonzalez is believed to have fled to Mexico, and detectives are working to determine his location.

Sheriff Warnke said they intend to work with police in Mexico to bring Gonzalez back.

GinnyReed - December Mon, 2017

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