Crime & Courts

West Columbia man found guilty of impregnating 11-year-old victim

A 24-year-old West Columbia man was found guilty Friday of second- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor after he impregnated an 11-year-old victim.

Judge R. Knox McMahon sentenced Martin Rodriguez to 35 years in prison after a Lexington jury took 30 minutes to find Rodriguez guilty. Eleventh circuit court assistant solicitors Suzanne Mayes and Micah Casey tried the case.

According to a release from Solicitor Donnie Myers, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation into the incident on Sept. 11, 2013 when the sheriff and the Department of Social Services were notified of by a local pregnancy center that an 11-year-old girl was pregnant.

Myers said the victim gave birth to an infant child on April 11, 2014. DNA samples were collected from the child victim and the infant for analysis. Rodriguez, then 22, was identified as a suspect and DNA samples were also collected from him.

The DNA samples were submitted to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for paternity testing, which determined that Rodriquez was the father, Myers said. Rodriguez was arrested on May 20, 2014 and charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

The child victim, now 13, testified during the trial and identified Rodriguez as the person who committed several sexual assaults against her in the spring and summer of 2013 in Lexington County.