LAKE CITY, Fla. - A judge Friday morning granted a motion in part to reduce the bond for Rian Rodriguez, the former high school soccer coach accused of having sex with a 17-year-old Columbia County student.
Rodriguez, 27, has been in custody at the Columbia County jail since Dec. 14 as he awaits trial on charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and interference with child custody. He is being held there in lieu of $105,000 bond.
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He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted of the first- and third-degree felony offenses.
In court, Rodriguez's parents, Omar and Sol, took the stand to plead for a reduction, saying they planned to liquidate their retirement and savings accounts to cover his bond. They promised to monitor their son's activity and to make sure he stays home, outside of meetings with his lawyer.
Attorney Rod Smith, who represents Rodriguez, reminded the court that his client has never been in trouble with the law, saying he is no danger to the community. He said Rodriguez won't do anything outside what the court allows if he is able to post bond.
But Circuit Judge David Fina largely sided with the state's argument that Rodriguez has nothing to lose and could pose a flight risk if released from custody. He ultimately upheld the $100,000 bond amount for the child sex charge, but agreed to reduce bond for the custody charge to $5,000.
"Contrary to the arguments here... I believe that he does have incentive to have contact with the victim because apparently there was some sort of relationship over a period of time," Judge Fina said shortly before handing down his decision.
Rodriguez, a former boys soccer coach at Fort White High, and 17-year-old Caitlyn Frisina became the focus of a nationwide search after the teen ran away from home in November. Police located the pair Dec. 1 near Syracuse, New York.
Rodriguez just sat down in the courtroom for his bond hearing. He’s facing up to 35 years in prison for two charges including unlawful sexual activity with a minor & interfering in child custody. @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/0sxN9xIwss — Allyson Henning (@WJXTAllyson) January 26, 2018
Court documents show that Rodriguez and Frisina acknowledged having a sexual relationship when they first met with investigators after getting caught in New York. Police said Rodriguez had been planning to buy bogus credentials prior to his capture so the two could leave the country.
(Editor's Note: News4Jax typically does not name victims of sex crimes, but Frisina has already been the subject of national news.)
At Friday's bond hearing, Rodriguez waived his right to a speedy trial. A trial date was set for April 10 at 10 a.m.
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