Man receives probation for 2021 assaults; victims say sentence is too lenient
AUSTIN, Texas - Tuesday, April 25 Antonio Cordero-Rios was sentenced to 10 years probation for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and injury to a child.
His victims packed the courtroom after waiting years for this day.
"Your sentence is too lenient. You got off easy for what you did. I have heard no remorse from you. I have heard no apology," said Lynn Isaak, a victim.
On June 30, 2021, Isaak became the first of 10 victims. She spoke after her perpetrator’s sentence was read.
"You are a monster, and I don’t forgive you for what you did to me," she said.
That day, Isaak was attacked while on a run by a stranger in a mask. Her Apple Watch captured the chase and struggle which lasted seven minutes. After being told by police it would be tough to find the person who did it, Isaak went on Nextdoor and found out other women had encountered the suspect.
"While you were hiding, all your victims were piecing together the clues to find you. In the end, it was you who helped us," said Lynn.
Those victims were able to piece together the make and model of the car as well as the license plate. They even created a map of where all the incidents happened. These efforts eventually lead to Cordero-Rio's arrest.
"This, in my opinion, is such an incredible story as women in our community coming together, using social media in a way that's positive," said Kelsey McKay, victims' attorney/founder of Respond Against Violence.
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Even though Isaak was the only victim who spoke out, the other victims were right there in support.
"We were very lucky to come together and bring all the women together to support each other," said Lynn.
On top of 10 years of probation, the judge announced Cordero-Rios must stay away from all victims and children and register as a sex offender.
His defense attorney told FOX 7 Austin his client is remorseful.
"My client, in pleading guilty, recognizes his actions. He's accepting responsibility," said Cordero-Rios's defense attorney Jorge Vela.
Vela explained to FOX 7 Austin why Cordero-Rios received probation over prison time.
"This was a deal that was reached with the district attorney's office after 16 months of negotiation. It took into account my client's lack of criminal history and the facts of the case," said Vela.
The judge assured the victims this is a zero tolerance probation. "I give you my word. It's on my watch now. There will be no more survivors. This is it. It ends here," said District Judge Karen Sage.
The victims created a campaign called "Not Today" under The UnCooperative Project to support victim’s rights.
"This is not the expected outcome when this case was filed," McKay said Thursday. "Because of that risk to the public and other women, it was something that we were hoping would protect the community, and he may go to prison."
Plea deals are negotiated between the prosecutor and defense attorney.
"They look at the evidence. They consider what some of the weaknesses might be, whether this is the type of crime or perpetrator who could be rehabilitated or if there is a danger to either a specific victim, if they're known to each other or the risk to the community," McKay said.
While the victims' side was included in the discussion, McKay says they have limited power to change plea deals and that plea deals are often respected by judges.
She says there is concern about the Cordero-Rios re-offending.
"We felt like there is a huge risk to the community. I am not familiar with what type of treatment he'll be receiving, and while I always am a fan of rehabilitating people over sending them to prison, there are just some circumstances we're taking them off the street might be the solution," she said.
The Travis County District Attorney's Office released the following statement:
"We are grateful to the survivors of this crime for their courage and resilience to speak up to ensure justice. During the review of these cases, we discovered significant evidentiary challenges that made the result at trial far from certain. For the safety of our community, the defendant will be monitored through probation and be required to register as a sex offender."
McKay also says she and the victims want others to be aware of Cordero-Rios' identity, so they can protect themselves and their neighbors.
He also has three pending indecent exposure cases.