A Hardeeville man who sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 2016 has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Victor Lopez-Romero, 34, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. “The young victim in this case was extremely brave to come forward,” said Assistant Solicitor Patrick Hall. “She was instrumental in helping to successfully prosecute this defendant.”
Shortly after the girl’s aunt left to go to work during the early morning hours of Sept. 13, 2016, Lopez-Romero went into the girl’s bedroom. He dragged the sleeping girl from her bed and covered her mouth and nose so that she couldn’t make any noises. He brought the girl to his bedroom and sexually assaulted her. When he passed out, the girl found a cousin in the house and they called 911.
An examination of the girl at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston revealed trauma. DNA was collected and submitted for testing.
“In one of the DNA tests, the results came back as a match of one in 62 quintillion,” Hall said. “That’s 62 followed by 18 zeros.”
Circuit Court Judge Perry M. Buckner handed down Monday’s sentence.
Hall is the administrative solicitor in Jasper County and heads up the community prosecution team. He has been with the Solicitor’s Office since 2009.