Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger announces that Robert Victor Cortez, age 44, of Joplin, formerly of Mexico, Mo., after pleading guilty to two counts of Sexual Contact with a Student, has been sentenced to eight years in the Missouri Department of Corrections, subject to completion of the Department of Corrections 120-day Sexual Offender Assessment Program inside the prison. Cortez pled guilty on October 20 to charges stemming from September, 2016.
Cortez entered his pleas of guilty and admitted he committed the crimes against a former Mexico High School student.
“Robert Cortez’s sentence is firm and the maximum sentence allowable under Missouri law, four years on each count to run consecutive to each other for a total of eight years,” Shellabarger said. “The victim and his family felt strongly that Cortez should face a strict and severe punishment, but also to not serve the maximum sentence unless he violates his probation. Cortez will register as a sex offender and be subject to an intensive program inside the Department of Corrections where he must face the consequences
of his actions and the damage he has done to this family and our community. If he successfully completes the program, he has an opportunity to be placed on probation under strict supervision. Robert Cortez and his supporters harassed, threatened, demeaned, and bullied his victim in this case – using the civil justice system to expose his name, address and information, and put him through an obviously frivolous civil and administrative lawsuit process in an attempt to shake his and his family’s determination and cooperation. Cortez, his wife, and supporters used Facebook, and other means to divide this community into ‘Cortez’s Army’ and those who stood with the victim.”
“By Robert Cortez’s own words, all that was a lie,” Shellabarger went on to say in a press release. “Cortez, who protested his innocence, claiming God was on his side and that the Devil was testing him, and a conspiracy was being raised against him, used the same tactics abusers use to gain trust. I don’t blame those who stood with Cortez, they did not want to believe it because they believed the lies and didn’t know the truth this victim knew that Robert Cortez molested a student who trusted and liked him. The victim told Judge Dalton what Cortez did, how this community treated him, and how the justice system treated him. His statement tells a narrative that must be heard, respected and learned from across our community. In Audrain County, if you commit a sexual assault: no matter who you are, we will find you, we will thoroughly investigate your case, and you will be prosecuted fully, fairly and without hesitation. This case sharply divided our community between an abuser and his victim. Thank you to the Mexico Public Safety Department and the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team for a comprehensive and thorough investigation.”
The case number is 16AU-CR00790-01.
(A victim’s statement is available with this story link on our website.)