Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger announces that Robert Victor Cortez, age 44, of Joplin, formerly of Mexico, Mo., has pled guilty to two counts of Sexual Contact with a student from events occurring on September 26, 2016.
Cortez entered his pleas of guilty and admitted he committed the crimes against a former Mexico High School student during the plea hearing this afternoon in the Circuit Court of Audrain County with Circuit Judge Wesley Dalton. Cortez will be sentenced on December 4 at the Courthouse in Mexico. Cortez faces up to four years confinement in prison on each of the two counts.
“Robert Cortez broke the trust placed in him by his students, those students’ parents, and the Mexico School District, and this community will take time to heal from this betrayal,” Shellabarger said in a press release. “The events occurring during MHS Homecoming 2016, and immediately divided the community between those who claimed Cortez was innocent or the target of a conspiracy; and a victim who wished to remain anonymous and wanted to make sure other students were protected from Cortez’s actions. Robert Cortez’ plea of guilty today means he has taken responsibility and admitted his actions. A clear message has been sent to abusers in our community: we will find you, we will thoroughly investigate your case, and you will be prosecuted fully, fairly and without hesitation. Although this case sharply divided our community between an abused and his victim–the investigation in this case was performed in a professional, straight-forward and thorough manner. The multidisciplinary team cooperative approach to working child abuse & neglect cases yields better results for victims. This case brought together the Mexico Public Safety Department, Audrain County Children’s Division, Missouri State Technical Assistance Team from the Department of Health and Senior Services, and my office to provide a clear, consistent and thorough investigation and prosecution with the safety of this student, Mexico Schools and the community first. It is the team concept of experience, knowledge and combined resources allowed this case to be fully investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and allowing justice to prevail for this family.”