Frank Rodriguez wishes nothing more in the world than to take his daughters to school, watch them play soccer, and raise them as a normal father — but the law restricts him from doing so.
Frank Rodriguez from Caldwell, TX has lived a fairy-tale life: he graduated high-school as a leading football star, married his high-school sweetheart, and has four beautiful daughters. But there’s one thing that has kept him from succeeding in any arena in life: he’s a registered sex offender.
Frank, 34, met his wife, Nikki Rodriguez, 30, during high-school when he was 18-years-old and she was 15. He was the stereotypical star football jock and she was the beautiful cheerleader. “Frank was different. He would pick flowers for me at the bus stop and bring them to school. At lunch, he came and sat with my friends and me, not with the guys,” Nikki tells Marie Claire. After about a year of dating, the two had sex.
After revealing to her conservative mother, Melissa Ostman, that the couple were involved physically, Melissa told Nikki that she had to stop. “I liked Frank from day one, but I wanted them to cool of,” she admits. But one night after the passionate pair left Nikki’s younger sister at a fair to have sex, Melissa had had enough. She drove to the police station and reported Frank for having sex with a minor. Although a serious crime, she was not looking to punish him — just scare him off. “If I had known the implications, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Frank, who had enjoyed life working on local ranches as a teenager, found himself a criminal sex offender at the age of 19. From there, his world was turned upside down. “I couldn’t talk to Nikki. I couldn’t go to restaurants, public swimming pools, football games — any places where there might be kids. I couldn’t vote. I couldn’t leave the country without permission.”
Life would only become tougher for Frank. He had to perform 350 hours of community service, attend weekly counseling courses with other convicted pedophiles and sex offenders, complete serve seven years probation, and had to move out of his family home because a 12-year-old — his sister — lived there. For two years, Frank lived alone as he slumped deeper into depression. “My life stopped,” he reveals. Though, he still hoped for a better future.
The day Nikki turned 17, she moved in with Frank. “We didn’t have anything — but we didn’t need anything.” Two years later, the couple welcomed their first of four daughters — but Frank’s probation restricted him from living in the same home as his young baby. So he was forced to live in his own home illegally, until he completed his probation in 2003.
Despite strict sex offender laws in each state, grassroots groups have sought to change such laws at the expense of those accused at a young age — like Frank Rodriguez. This past spring, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a new bill to lift convictions on sex-offenders. The bill — which goes into effect in September — 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 assets that would allow Frank to lift his conviction and become a free man.
Do you think Frank’s conviction should be lifted, HollyMoms? Tell us how you feel!
— Michael Emer
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