I TEAM: Man in US illegally sentenced for Cleveland sex assault

CLEVELAND - Only the FOX 8 I TEAM watched Tuesday as a Cuyahoga County judge punished a man for a sex assault, and much of the hearing focused on how he has repeatedly come into the US illegally.

Federal officials say Antonio Barrera has been deported 3 times. Now he has been sent to prison for sexually assaulting a child on Cleveland’s east side. The victim is a relative, and he is just 5 years old.

Judge Nancy Russo gave Barrera 15 years in prison for the sex assault, and she made it clear that he will be deported again at the end of the sentence.

Barrera spoke through an interpreter. He told the judge, “I've never had any record like this before. My record is clean.” Judge Russo countered with, “But you can't say that. You've been deported. Your record's not clean."

Barrera said he came back to the US, “To support my family.” He claims he has only been deported once. Immigration officials say three times.

The judge wondered how Barrera got into the country. He said he walked from Mexico to El Paso, Texas. He also said “a man” drove him to Ohio. He first landed in Painesville, and then he made his way to Cleveland.

The Judge also said, "But most importantly here, it’s the trauma to the child. It’s the damage to the child. It’s the act." In fact, the mother of the victim and Cuyahoga County prosecutors both called for stiff punishment for the sex crimes. The victim’s mother told the Court, "I want him to serve time for what he did. He caused a lot of damage."

The Feds say it is standard procedure to have a convict who’s in this country illegally serve a prison sentence before getting deported.

By email, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said, “He has to serve his prison term and then be turned over to ICE for deportation. With respect to ensuring he doesn't return, there are systems in place to ensure that he could not lawfully return.” But, the official didn’t elaborate on the “systems in place.”

At any rate, this should be the last we see of Antonio Barrera in America.