Frank Rodriguez is a proud father of four who wants nothing more than to coach his daughter’s soccer team, but there’s one thing stopping him from doing so — he’s a registered sex offender.
Frank Rodriguez met his wife Nikki Rodriguez when he was an 18-year-old senior in high school, and she just a 15-year-old freshman. The charming football jock began to court the envied cheerleader in a stereotypical high school romance based in Caldwell, TX. However, this fairytale doesn’t have a happy ending — Nikki’s mom, Melissa Ostman, overreacted when she found out her 16-year-old daughter was having sex with a 19-year-old, and called the police. Now, Frank has been living the past 15 years as a registered sex offender and father-of-four.
At 19, Frank was charged with statutory rape of a minor for having sex with 16-year-old Nikki, because the legal age of consent in Texas is 17. The day she turned 17, she moved in with Frank who had been living alone after being forced out of his house by the law since a 12-year-old girl lived there too — his own sister. Two years later, the couple welcomed the first of their four daughters – but his probation prohibited him from living in the same house as a minor, so he lived there illegally until 2003.
Appearing on The Today Show, Nikki reveals that the greatest impact of Frank’s criminal status is “[having to] explain yourself to everyone that you meet, everyone that you come in contact with…[and people] talking about you behind your back.”
However, former sex crimes prosecutor Robin Sax believes this punishment is not right. “This is a mom trying to use the legal system to parent instead of having a conversation…it’s a tool that we as parents use to protect our kids and it’s supposed to specify this person is a danger to our society, ‘watch out.’” But Frank, she believes, is no danger. “When someone is looking at that list they are not expecting Mr. Rodriguez to be there.”
Though now, hope lies ahead for Frank and his family. Texas Governor Rick Perry passed a bill that will go into affect in September that will allow accused offenders to file a petition if he was within four years of age of his sexual partner, and if his partner was at least 15 at the time of the conviction — key aspects of Frank’s case that will help him get his name off the registry.
– Michael Emer