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Mason Lee Rodriguez in court

Mason Lee Rodgriguez listens to District Court Judge Kurt Krueger on Thursday before pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Butte on two occasions in 2017. Standing next to Rodriguez is Walter Hennessey, his public defender.

Prosecutors are recommending that a man who sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl in Butte on two occasions be sentenced to the Montana State Prison for 20 years.

Mason Lee Rodriguez, 21, pleaded guilty to sexual assault Thursday, acknowledging the crimes took place in August 2017 and in October that year. He specifically admitted to touching the girl’s privates and having her touch his.

Rodriguez is listed in one court document as being from Butte but with no address. In another record, he is listed as homeless, but the incidents took place in Butte-Silver Bow County.

District Judge Kurt Krueger ordered a presentence investigation Thursday and remanded Rodriguez to jail with bond set at $125,000.

Because of the girl’s age, Rodriguez faces at least four years in prison and up to life or 100 years. But in a plea agreement filed with the judge last week, prosecutors are recommending he get 30 years in the state prison with 10 suspended.

Rodriguez pleaded guilty as part of the agreement, but defendants can and often do argue for a lesser sentence. Regardless, Krueger is not bound to the terms of the plea deal.

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In a forensic interview, the girl said Rodriguez assaulted her once at his residence and once at her mother’s residence in Butte.

The girl, in effect, said during an Oct. 4, 2018, interview that Rodriguez came into her bedroom when others were asleep and had sex with her then told her not to tell anyone.

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On another occasion, she described acts of molestation. She wasn’t sure of the dates.

When police interviewed Rodriguez, he said he once walked into the bathroom when the girl was in the shower but left when he saw her. According to prosecutors, he admitted certain acts but said he did not have intercourse with her.

When told that she claimed he did, Rodriguez claimed to have blacked out during the incident, prosecutors said. He also told a police detective that after one of the incidents, “he never wanted to go back to the house as he was afraid it might happen again.”

Before the plea deal was filed last week, the case had been set for trial starting Monday.

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