A Santa Fe County jury deliberated for about three hours before finding Robert Serrano, 60, of Los Lunas guilty of two counts of child rape Thursday.

Serrano posed as a Peruvian teenager in online interactions with his victim — a then 12-year-old Santa Fe girl — before infiltrating her home life and raping her in 2017, according to evidence presented at trial.

“We are so pleased the jury found Robert Serrano guilty on all counts,” District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said Thursday after the jury of eight women and four men returned its guilty verdict.

“I especially want to point out the bravery of the now-16-year-old victim who had to fly from out of state by herself and subject herself to cross-examination but went through with the trial,” Carmack-Altwies said. “The outcome was positive for her, and I’m so glad we were able to take this case to trial and that we’ve gotten another rapist off the streets.”

During the four-day trial, jurors heard a strange tale of how Serrano had befriended the child on social media, then ingratiated himself with her mother before spending time with the girl and her younger sister.

Serrano also posed as someone named “Pastor Marco,” according to testimony presented during the trial, and connected himself to the case by calling the child’s school from his own phone number to report that she was being exploited online.

When police and authorities from the state Children, Youth and Families Department went the girl’s home to follow up on the call, they found Serrano at the child’s home and arrested him on the spot after learning that he had raped the girl in his car the previous night after taking her and her younger sister to see the movie My Little Pony.

The girl testified Tuesday she didn’t remember exactly what happened because she’d drunk something that smelled strong and had “blacked out.” When she regained consciousness, she said, she was in the back seat with Serrano and her mother was standing outside.

But prosecutor Haley Murphy told jurors in her closing argument Thursday “the law doesn’t require a minute-by-minute recollection.”

Serrano was also accused of raping the child about a week earlier in the living room at her home.

“We are obviously disappointed in the verdict but respect the jury’s decision,” Serrano’s defense attorney Brad Kerwin wrote in a text message following the verdict. “We do [plan] to appeal once sentencing has taken place.”

Each of the two counts of criminal sexual penetration Serrano was convicted of are first-degree felonies that carry a possible sentence of 18 years, meaning he faces up to 36 years in prison when he is sentenced. A date for the sentencing has not yet been scheduled.

(5) comments

Andrew Lucero

The jury did it's job. Now it's time for the judge to do theirs. I pray it isn't Ellington or else this reptile will be back on our streets before his victims can even finish high school.

Mark Ortiz

It's Judge Marlowe Sommer, and as far as I can remember, she's head and shoulders above Ellington, not without a hic up here or there.

Mark Ortiz

Phaedra, I noticed when you ran the story about the victim taking the stand in this catfishing rape case, you omitted the Judge's name and again with this article. Maybe you haven't been following some of the other recent cases where some of the decisions by local Judges seem to be questionable at best? It has been an issue and seems it will always be an issue in our courts. With the only recourse the public has is to vote "do not retain", as trivial as this may sound, a little shaming or credit (for an appropriate ruling) in Santa Fe's only daily newspaper will help us know which of these judges is doing what. I took a journalism class back in the late 80's, seems the judges name is pertinent information.

Charlotte Rowe

Is the judge's name really pertinent for this article? At the time of sentencing it certainly will be, but the judge did not make this conviction. The jury did.

Sabine Strohem

Good. Now impose a harsh sentence on this predator.

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