Man gets 22 to 27 1/2 years in prison

YOUNGSTOWN — Juan L. Rivera Jr., 35, was sentenced to 22 to 27 1/2 years in prison Thursday for raping a child.

Rivera was indicted in May on five counts of rape and three counts of gross sexual imposition, but some of the charges were dismissed in exchange for his plea. Without his plea agreement, he could have gotten a life prison sentence.

The rapes occurred May 30, 2022, to March 28 in Youngstown, according to his indictments. All of the offenses involved the same child. Rivera has been in the Mahoning County jail since April 4.

He is classified as a Tier 3 sex offender and must register every 90 days for the rest of his life with the sheriff’s office where he lives after he leaves prison.

Caitlyn Andrews, Mahoning County assistant prosecutor, told Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen Sweeney the victim was 9 years old when the offenses began.

The offenses came to light when the girl suggested her willingness to engage in sexual contact with another male, who asked her why she would ask that.

She told him Rivera taught her. The child later revealed at the Child Advocacy Center that Rivera engaged in various types of sex with her. When Rivera was arrested, he “made some admissions, but attempted to downplay his actions,” Andrews said. He admitted to multiple types of sex offenses with the child, Andrews said.

“The state believes this is the worst form of the offense,” Andrews said, adding the girl was so young “she was not able to comprehend what was happening, and she is not able to consent to this activity.”

Andrews said Rivera took the child’s innocence and is “never going to be the same person. For that reason … the state believes the 22 years is appropriate.”

Aaron Meikle, Rivera’s attorney, called it “a very sad case.” Rivera also was a victim of sexual assault, Meikle said.

“So many times we see this where the abuse continues. Ignorance of the law excuses no man,” he said.

He said when Rivera was abused when he was young “it was almost like this was normal behavior, and I think that is what led to some of his comments that he made,” Meikle said.


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