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Kelso man pleads not guilty to child rape

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A 20-year-old man, who said he thought his sexual partner was the legal age to give consent at one point, pleaded not guilty to second-degree child rape Thursday in Cowlitz County Superior Court.

Court documents state Joseluis Gutierrez of Kelso admitted to having sex with a person he thought, at one time, was 16 years old last summer, but police say the alleged victim was 13 years old. Gutierrez told police he eventually learned the alleged victim’s actual age, according to court documents.

Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Gutierrez on Nov. 4 for suspicion of the felony. The probable cause statement that led to his arrest says the alleged victim told a child justice advocate the reported abuse occurred around August after Gutierrez asked the alleged victim to hang out.

A person is charged with second-degree child rape in Washington state if the alleged victim is between 12 and 14 years old and the reported perpetrator is at least 36 months, or three years, older, according to state law. Gutierrez would have been 82 months, or almost seven years older than the alleged victim during the reported incident.

Gutierrez was released on a $25,000 bond Nov. 5 and his trial is set for Jan. 11, 2022.

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