A Texas man who posed online as a teen boy to solicit sex from a 13-year-old Downers Grove girl told a judge Thursday that methamphetamines made him do it.
"It was the evil of the drugs," Rudolph Figueroa, 46, said as he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
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Prosecutors said the Corpus Christi man began preying on the victim in March 2012 after she posted a video of herself at gymnastics practice on YouTube.
Pretending to be a 17-year-old boy, Figueroa went on to have several sexually explicit conversations with the girl by phone and text message. He also used a Facebook page set up under a false identity.
Assistant State's Attorney Ann Celine O'Hallaren said Figueroa repeatedly "begged" the victim to send him nude photos of herself, and she eventually conceded.
"He told her he loved her and planned to marry her," O'Hallaren said in court.
Figueroa came under investigation after an organization that monitors Internet postings alerted police to suspicious online activity involving the victim in June 2012.
O'Hallaren said police went to the victim's family, who allowed detectives to use the girl's phone to reach out to Figueroa. After a series of sexually explicit text messages to the officers, the victim agreed to speak with Figueroa over the phone while police listened.
During that conversation, Figueroa told the girl he "wanted to come visit and bring her to Texas," O'Hallaren said.
Police later executed a search warrant at Figueroa's apartment in Corpus Christi. Authorities said he admitted having online sexual interactions with young girls in various states across the country, telling officers "it excited him."
"He said the methamphetamines he was taking made him a pedophile," O'Hallaren said.
In a statement read in court, the Downers Grove victim said the ordeal left her traumatized and "struggling with the feeling this whole situation was my fault."
"(Figueroa) abruptly ended my childhood in a truly terrible way," she wrote in the statement.
Figueroa was sentenced by DuPage County Judge Robert Kleeman after pleading guilty to one count each of solicitation to meet a child and child pornography.
In a brief statement, Figueroa said he "found God" and was glad to be off drugs.
"I'm very sorry," he said. "I'll never go back."
By law, he must serve at least five years before he could be eligible for parole, with credit for more than a year in the county jail.
Figueroa also must register as a sex offender for life.