Minnesota woman could plea to sex crime

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BENNINGTON — Prosecutors and an attorney for a 21-year-old Minnesota woman facing felony charges after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy are working towards a plea agreement.

Rosa Maria Pastrana, of Staples, has been held without bail since January. She's accused of having sexual contact and exchanging sexually explicit messages and photos with a boy who lives in Bennington County, whom she met online.

Defense attorney Susan Keane McManus and Deputy State's Attorney Alexander Burke told Judge David A. Howard in Bennington criminal court on Wednesday that both parties are close to a resolution. Howard ordered during that settlement conference that a separate change of plea hearing be scheduled soon after the holidays.

Investigators last December received information that Pastrana was having an online relationship with a 14-year-old boy. According to a court affidavit, Pastrana traveled to Bennington County and had sexual contact with the boy multiple times around Christmas. Police arrested her at a Manchester hotel on Jan. 4.

Police were later granted a warrant to search Pastrana's cell phone. Investigators found four explicit photos and a video of the boy, as well as numerous records of calls and text messages, according to the affidavit.

Pastrana pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court in January to single felony counts of repeated aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault on a victim less than 16 years old, attempted luring of a child for sexual exploitation, and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. She pleaded not guilty in March to additional charges of felony possession of child pornography (five counts).

If convicted of the aggravated sexual assault charge, Pastrana faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison. The lewd and lascivious conduct charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years. The child pornography charge carries a maximum sentence of up to five years.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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