GALVESTON

A retired Houston police officer will serve three life sentences for three sexual assaults of a child from Texas City.

Judge Patricia Grady of the 212th District Court on Friday sentenced Abel Diaz Rodriguez, 56, to three consecutive life sentences for sexually assaulting a minor. Rodriguez retired from the Houston Police Department in 2007.

Rodriguez, a resident of Texas City, was indicted on three first-degree offenses of sexual assault of a child, each carrying a punishment range of 5 to 99 years, or life.

Rodriguez’s criminal charges were from sexual assaults that took place in 2014.

Prosecutors Gina Gilmore and Rebekah Saunders presented evidence and testimony in the trial.

Witnesses included the victim, who was 14 at the time, Detective Mel Villarreal of Texas City Police Department, a sexual assault nurse examiner, family members of the victim, a Child Protective Services caseworker and the victim’s therapist.

The jury also heard that Rodriguez was alleged to have previously sexually assaulted another minor, who also provided testimony.

The victim and her sisters reported the crimes to Texas City police in October 2015.

The victim said Rodriguez had given her an ultimatum, forcing her to choose between physical abuse or engaging in sexual acts with him. The victim was forced to sign a “contract” that she was agreeing to the sexual encounters. The jury also heard Rodriguez had secretly recorded a sexual act.

The victim explained her fear of reporting the incidents because of Rodriguez’s position in law enforcement and threats he had made in the past.

The jury found Rodriguez guilty in all three cases.

The punishment phase immediately followed the guilty verdict. The victim and her family testified again.

Saunders asked the jury to also give Rodriguez a life sentence.

After 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury rendered a punishment verdict of life in all three cases.

The court stacked the sentences, ruling that the three life sentences must run consecutively.

Valerie Wells: 409-683-5246; valerie.wells@galvnews.com

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