Jurors took only about a half-hour to decide a convicted Megan’s Law offender was guilty of repeating his crimes.
Jose Rodriguez, now 70, was already registered as a sex offender when he took a friend’s daughter out shopping for her 12th birthday last year.
The girl’s mother was apparently unaware that Rodriguez was already listed as a “moderate risk” sex offender under Megan’s Law from a 2002 conviction. Just the Aug. 20, 2019, trip to Walmart was enough for the Egg Harbor City man to violate those conditions.
But it was a detour to Rodriguez’s Egg Harbor City home that was the real crime.
There, the girl told jurors, “Don Jose” had her undress, used a small handheld massager on her, touched her bottom and then pushed her onto his bed and tried to climb on top of her.
Rodriguez told the girl not to tell anyone, and even gave her $10. She told her mother later that night.
Jurors began deliberations around 2:30 p.m. Monday.
About a half-hour later, they returned verdicts of guilty for two counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of third-degree child endangerment.
A fourth-degree violation of Rodriguez’s lifetime supervision will be heard by Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury later this week.
Rodriguez lived just a tenth of a mile from the Charles Spragg Elementary School. Despite being properly registered under Megan’s Law, the terms of his case did not require him to be listed on the public registry.
His sentencing is set for Feb. 26, but that will be pending an evaluation at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel.
He remains in the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
The trial was the last in the state, as jury trials are once again suspended amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.