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story.lead_photo.caption Mario Lopez Perea

BENTONVILLE -- A judge Wednesday sentenced a sex offender to 20 years in prison for a new conviction of attempted sexual assault.

A jury found Mario Lopez Perea Jr., 37, guilty Tuesday of the attempted assault. It decided he wasn't guilty of sexual assault in the second degree. Jurors deliberated for almost two and a half hours Tuesday afternoon before returning the verdicts.

Level 2

Community notification for a Level 2 sex offender requires notice to the offender’s known victim preference and those likely to come into contact with the offender.

Source: Arkansas State Sex Offender Protocol Training Manual

Circuit Judge Brad Karren followed the jury's recommendation and sentenced Perea to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Perea, who is already a Level 2 sex offender, will have to serve three and a half years before he's eligible for parole. Karren ordered Perea be reassessed as a sex offender.

The mother of a 16-year-old girl reported Feb. 6 a man approached her daughter at her bus stop and touched her inappropriately, according to court documents. The teen provided sheriff's deputies a partial license plate number of the man's car, which led to Perea's arrest.

The girl, who is now 17, testified Tuesday a man in red Dodge Challenger pulled up and waved at her. The man turned his car around, parked across the street and walked up to her, she said.

The man told her his name was Mario and he wasn't a bad man, the girl said. He then hugged her, touched her inappropriately and attempted to lift up her shirt, but she stopped him, she said. The girl said she got away by telling him her mother was calling her.

Sgt. David Undiano with the Sheriff's Office viewed video from cameras in the bus. It showed Perea's car in the area moments after the bus let the girl off, he said. Undiano said Perea told him he stopped that day to talk to a young girl.

Perea testified and denied ever touching the girl in a sexual or inappropriate manner. He admitted to stopping his car and talking with her, but said he only stopped after the girl yelled at him as he was passing. He said he gave the girl a half hug and then left.

"I told her to stay in school," Perea said to jurors. He denied he ever attempted to lift up the girl's shirt.

Stuart Cearley, chief deputy prosecutor, read victim impact statements from the girl and her mother to the jury. The teen's letter told jurors Perea's actions impacted her her life at school and home. The teen said she's now afraid to stay at home by herself.

"I've shut out people that are important in my life," Cearley read.

"He has robbed her of some of her innocence and that breaks my heart," Cearley read from the mother's letter.

Perea declined to say anything before the judge sentenced him.

NW News on 12/14/2017

Print Headline: Man gets 20 years for attempted assault

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