ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — San Juan County teen pleads guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual penetration.
Derrick Smith, 19, admitted in court Monday that he "had sex with a girl five years younger" than himself when he was 18 years old as he pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual penetration, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
San Juan County sheriff's deputies learned of the illegal relationship after the young girl's mother told deputies on Feb. 22 that her daughter was missing that morning, the Daily Times said.
An arrest warrant affidavit said the girl's mother was "worried that her daughter snuck out of the house and met up with an 18-year-old male, Derrick Smith," the Daily Times reported.
According to court documents, the young girl told investigators that she had sneaked out of her house on at least three occasions to have sex with Smith, saying she believed "sex was a sign he truly loved her," the Daily Times reported.
At an arraignment hearing Monday, Smith — who had originally been charged with four counts of criminal sexual penetration — pleaded guilty to two fourth-degree counts, each of which is punishable by 18 months in prison, the paper said.
"I was dating a girl five years younger than me, and we had sex a few times," Smith told state District Judge Thomas Hynes in pleading guilty to New Mexico's version of statutory rape.
Under New Mexico law, anyone who is at least 18 years old and has sex with a child between the ages of 13 and 16, is at least four years older than the child and is not the child's spouse, can be charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual penetration whether the sex is consensual or not.
Hynes said he would postpone Smith's sentencing until April 23 so that the victim can speak before the court, the Daily Times reported.