LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - A 29-year-old confirmation teacher was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child, aged 13 to 16, and one count of selling or giving alcoholic beverages to a minor, the district attorney's office announced.
The charges against 29-year-old Jesus Luna-Armenta, of Vado, New Mexico, all fourth-degree felonies, carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison, officials said.
Investigators say Luna-Armenta, over the course of several weeks, sought out a relationship with the 14-year-old victim through Facebook.
His advances escalated, and on at least three occasions, he picked the victim up from her house with the intent to have sex, police reports state.
On one occasion, Luna-Armenta took the victim to his house while his fiancée was not at home and forced her to engage in sexual activity, despite her objections. On another, he took her to a motel room in Anthony, Texas, intending to force her to perform a sexual act, officials said.
Luna-Armenta told the court he teaches confirmation classes to teens at his church in Del Cerro, New Mexico. He also said he hopes to pursue a career in youth counseling one day.
Prosecutors asked that Luna-Armenta be prohibited from teaching classes to minors under the age of 18; but the judge decided he could have contact with minors only if a "responsible adult" is present.
The victim addressed the court at sentencing and asked the court to send Luna-Armenta to prison. She described the mental and emotional hardship that has resulted from the rapes, which have led to suicide attempts.
"I just want everything to be over and for that man to pay for what he has done," she told the court.
Luna-Armenta is not a legal United States resident, and because the crimes he committed are felonies, he will be removed from the country upon his release from the New Mexico Department of Corrections.
If he ever resides in the United States again, prosecutors say he will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.