MERCED COUNTY, CA (ABC News) – A California sheriff says a “screw-up” led to the mistaken release of an inmate who had pleaded guilty to child molestation.
The Merced Sun-Star reported Thursday that Merced County jailers mistakenly allowed 38-year-old Primitivo Gonzalez to post bail on Nov. 22.
Gonzalez had pleaded guilty to repeatedly molesting a 5-year-old girl.
A judge had ordered him held without bail until sentencing, when he faced 35 years-to-life in prison.
Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke says he takes responsibility for the mistaken release and has taken steps to prevent a repeat.
The sheriff defends not making public the man’s release.
He says he believed Gonzalez quickly returned to Mexico and is no longer a threat in Merced County.