VALPARAISO | After balking on his initial guilty plea, David Lopez was required before being sentenced Friday to say aloud in the courtroom how he molested two young girls.
"Your honor, I fondled two minors," said the 36-year-old. "It's something that shouldn't have happened. It will never happen again."
The verbal admission was enough to convince Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa that Lopez was not retreating on his guilty pleas and that the terms of his plea agreement should be accepted.
Lopez pleaded guilty to two felony counts of child molesting filed by Portage police and in return received a sentence of six years behind bars to be followed by 14 years on formal probation.
Because of the nature of one of the offenses and the young age of the girl, Lopez was labeled a sexually violent predator and is required to serve 85 percent of his sentence, as opposed to the typical 50 percent, Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said.
Lopez, who has addresses in Whiting and Burns Harbor, will also be required to register as a sex offender and will maintain that status for life as a result of the severity of the offenses, Polarek said.
Lopez admitted to molesting two sisters - ages 7 and 11 - between Dec. 1, 2010 and Feb. 28, 2011, according to his testimony Friday.
While initially pleading guilty in August, Lopez said he "danced around" his admission when interviewed by the probation department in preparation for sentencing. He said he never outright withdrew his guilty plea, but has had a difficult time accepting what he did.