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Former kindergarten teacher receives maximum sentence for sexual assault of child

Lexington, SC (05/12/2021) – Former Lexington School District One Kindergarten Teacher Hianlucas Isturiz Rodriguez, 43, pled guilty this week in Lexington County General Sessions Court to Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor - Third Degree. He was charged for sexually abusing a student.

After his plea, Eleventh Circuit Chief Administrative Judge Walton J. McLeod, IV imposed the maximum sentence of fifteen years in prison. Under South Carolina law, this crime is classified as a violent offense. Rodriguez will be required to register as a sex offender and be subject to electronic monitoring upon his release from the S.C. Department of Corrections.

Rodriguez, known by his students as Senor Isturiz, was employed as a Spanish language immersion teacher at Red Bank Elementary School from 2014 until 2017. The school district immediately terminated his employment following the child’s disclosure of abuse.

In April of 2017, a six year old victim reported to her family that Senor Isturiz was inappropriately touching her at school. She said this began at the start of the school year and the last incident occurred prior to Spring Break in April of 2017. Once the victim made the disclosure, school officials were immediately notified and they contacted the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD).

Investigator Kaaren Miller served as lead investigator and a forensic interview with the child victim was conducted at the Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center. During the interview, the victim provided a detailed account of the inappropriate touching that was later corroborated by additional evidence found at the school. During the course of the investigation, other students were interviewed too.

Once Rodriguez was notified that he was being placed on administrative leave pending an investigation for unprofessional conduct with a student, he fled Lexington County for South America. In the summer of 2019, Rodriguez was apprehended in Ecuador. With the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Columbia Metropolitan Airport Department of Public Safety, Rodriguez was extradited back to Lexington County in December of 2019.

During the sentencing hearing, the parents of the victim addressed the court and expressed the anger and hurt they felt towards Rodriguez, who had been entrusted with the care of young students. Before asking the judge for the maximum sentence, LCSD Investigator Miller stated, “While this case will, in a sense, be laid to rest today, it will never be laid to rest for these children. These children will continue to bear and wrestle with their new trauma for the rest of their lives.”

Additional Lexington County Sheriff’s Department investigators who worked tirelessly on the case and were present for the guilty plea. They were also joined by officials with Lexington School District One.

This case was prosecuted by Eleventh Circuit Senior Assistant Solicitor Rhonda W. Patterson. Rodriguez will be transported to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin immediate service of his sentence. Once Rodriguez completes the prison sentence, he faces deportation back to his home country of Venezuela.

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