Woodstock man sentenced in rape case

Hector Vicente Pelico

WOODSTOCK — After entering an Alford plea of guilty in June to a rape charge, a local man was sentenced on Friday to 15 years imprisonment.

Hector Vicente Pelico, also known as Jacinto Vicente Pelico, 30, was charged with raping an 11-year-old girl in February 2016. He maintains his innocence with the Alford plea, but pleaded guilty for the benefit of the plea agreement. Pelico was originally charged with having sex with a minor under the age of 13, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life imprisonment when the offender is over 18 years old, but the plea agreement amended the charge to rape, which carries a sentence of five years to life imprisonment. The prosecution dropped the three other child rape-related charges against Pelico as part of the plea agreement.

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, clinical psychologist Ilona Gravers, who conducted the psychosexual evaluation on Pelico, testified that he was at a low to moderate risk to reoffend, and had a 5.6 percent chance of recidivism given the circumstances of the crime. She said that the offense was “situational” because the victim gave him positive attention and he sexualized that relationship, and that she could not diagnose Pelico with pedophilia because of his interest in age-appropriate sexual relationships. Gravers also recommended sex offender treatment to teach Pelico skills to cope with his impulses.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola argued that Pelico had been grooming the victim “for his own sexual purposes,” and that the only reason they entered the plea agreement was because of the effect the case has had on the victim who believed she was in love with Pelico. Campola asked for the court to sentence Pelico to serve at least 30 years of active incarceration,  much higher than the sentencing guidelines, which call for 15 years of active time at the high end.

Michael Araj, Pelico’s attorney, argued that his client is at a low to moderate risk to reoffend, and is the sole supporter of his family in Guatemala through his job with  Araj also noted that the guilty plea makes it almost certain that Pelico will be deported back to Guatemala. But if he isn’t, then he should receive the sex offender treatment that was recommended for him. Araj asked for a sentence within the low to midpoint of the sentencing guidelines, which would be between 7-12 years.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp noted that even though Pelico maintains his innocence, the crimes he committed are “disgusting” to the standards of the community, and given the circumstances the sentencing guidelines in the case were appropriate. He sentenced Pelico to serve 15 years of a 30-year sentence, and required Pelico to complete five years of supervised and 10 years of unsupervised probation.

Hupp acknowledged that it is fully expected that Pelico will be deported, but if for any reason he isn’t, Pelico is required to maintain a sex offender registry, cannot have any unsupervised contact with minors nor any contact with the victim. If Pelico is deported, then the unsupervised probation becomes indefinite unsupervised probation, which would be violated if Pelico reenters the country illegally, Hupp noted.