Lancaster man tries to withdraw guilty plea on child sex charge at sentencing

Brandon Addeo
York Dispatch
Luis Ortiz-Cuevas

A York County judge sentenced a man to prison on a child sex charge despite the man's last-ditch effort to withdraw from a plea agreement. 

Luis Alberto Ortiz-Cuevas, 31, of Lancaster, was sentenced to four to eight years in prison by York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness. The sentence was for one count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, which is a felony. 

Ortiz-Cuevas was accused of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old child in the bathroom of a York City home sometime between 2013 and 2014. The assault was reported in 2018, and Ortiz-Cuevas was arrested by U.S. marshals in March 2019. 

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Ortiz-Cuevas previously reached a deal with prosecutors to plead to that charge in exchange for the dismissal of one other felony, child rape, and two misdemeanor child sex charges. That plea was an Alford plea, meaning Ortiz-Cuevas acknowledged prosecutors' evidence against him but maintained his innocence.  

At the sentencing Monday morning, Ortiz-Cuevas attempted to convince the judge to withdraw his plea, which he made on the first day of his trial in March. Ortiz-Cuevas motioned to withdraw his plea about a month before his original sentencing date in June.

Ortiz-Cuevas told the judge that he took the deal on his attorney's advice — and after learning he faced up to 40 years in prison — but argued he was "not in (his) right state of mind" and wanted to take the case to trial. 

"I was scared," he told the judge. "I would never have agreed to a plea deal if it had been strategized in a more organized way."

Ness denied the plea withdrawal and went forward with the sentencing. The judge allowed Ortiz-Cuevas to remain out of jail on supervised bail pending an anticipated appeal of the sentence. 

After the hearing, family supported Ortiz-Cuevas. His fiancée, Melissa Torres, said Ortiz-Cuevas was forced to take the plea and that he's innocent of the charges against him. 

"My man is a great dad. We have a 2-year-old and he’s a great dad to my four other children," Torres said. "Three are girls who love him."

Ortiz-Cuevas will have to register as a sex offender for life under the terms of his sentence.