The asterisk has been dropped from Veronica Rodriguez's freedom
after the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in a split decision
that Measure 11's mandatory sentencing law is too harsh in certain circumstances such as Rodriguez's.
Michael Hintz, an investigator who worked for Rodriguez' defense team
, says he's obviously happy with the court decision.
“I would have loved to have the conviction overturned because I believe she's innocent," Hintz says. "But I'm very happy that that this exception was upheld.”
Rodriguez, 27, was convicted of first-degree sexual assault in 2005 for running her hands through the hair of a 13-year-old boy and pressing the back of his head against her chest in a crowded room at the Boys and Girls Club in Hillsboro. The mandatory minimum sentence for such a crime under Measure 11 is 75 months, but Circuit Judge Nancy Campbell considered such a sentence cruel and unusual punishment and instead sentenced Rodriguez to 16 months.
Rodriguez was released after a year for good behavior, but prosecutors appealed in an attempt to force the former social worker to serve the remainder of her term in accordance with Measure 11.
The ruling means Rodriguez will not be forced to return to prison, although her conviction as a sexual offender stands.