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Ignacio De La Fuente Jr. admitted in court Thursday that he raped and sexually assaulted four women he had picked up on the streets of Fruitvale, a confession that brought an abrupt end to what was becoming a sensational trial of the son of the city council president. In exchange for pleading guilty, De La Fuente Jr., 34, will not face the 25 years to life in prison he would have been sentenced to had a jury convicted him of the five charges against him.

Instead, he will remain behind bars at least 12 years and for the rest of his life will be classified -- and must register wherever he lives -- as a sex offender.

Three of the four women De La Fuente Jr. sexually assaulted had admitted they were prostitutes. The fourth, a 15-year-old, denied being a prostitute and said she was kidnapped by De La Fuente Jr.

De La Fuente Jr. wiped tears from his eyes as the judge read each count and asked for his plea.

"Guilty, your honor," De La Fuente Jr. said after each count.

Meanwhile his father, City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, rubbed his eyes and shook his leg as the pleas were entered. At times he stared at his son. Other family members, including De La Fuente Jr.'s mother, cried.

De La Fuente Sr. and the rest of his family left the courtroom without comment.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Owens said the plea was not a surprise given the testimony of three of the women.

"The witnesses were credible and their testimony powerful," Owens said. "I believe that is why he decided to no longer fight and admit his guilt."

Three of the four victims, including the 15-year-old girl, had already testified in the trial.

Each victim described similar events leading up to being raped and sexually assaulted.

They described how De La Fuente Jr. picked them up in the Fruitvale and drove them to secluded areas of the city. Each victim said he parked his car with the passenger side against a building or fence to block her exit. They all said De La Fuente Jr. forced himself upon them without using protection. And when he was finished, the witnesses said, De La Fuente Jr. threw them out of his GMC pickup truck and drove away.

Although De La Fuente Jr.'s defense team attempted to discredit the witnesses, the jury believed the rapes and sexual assaults had occurred, Owens said after he interviewed the jury.

"They felt the women were credible and believable," he said. "They were leaning towards conviction."

But defense attorneys Robert and Anne Beles continued to argue Thursday that those accusing De La Fuente Jr. of rape and sexual assault did not appear credible on the stand.

"I thought the complaining witnesses that testified did very poorly, their credibility was impeached," Robert Beles said.

But, Beles said, the fact that there were four witnesses caused a "cumulative effect" that was overwhelming for De La Fuente Jr.

"It's his decision to take a compromise," Beles said.

De La Fuente Jr. will be sentenced to 14 years behind bars but might be able to be released after 12 years, Owens said.

If the jury had convicted De La Fuente Jr. of all five counts, he would have faced 25 years to life because of enhancements, such as kidnapping, placed on each charge.


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