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Gainesville man who disappeared during trial sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting a minor

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A man who sexually assaulted a minor late last year before disappearing during his trial was sentenced to life in prison Thursday. 

Ian Gabriel Montero-Lopez, 19, was sentenced to life in prison in absentia for sexually assaulting a minor in her own home on Christmas Eve 2021. 

Montero-Lopez, who was 18 at the time, had met the underage victim on Snapchat the week before the assault. The two communicated over the course of the week on Snapchat and FaceTime, according to the arrest report filed by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

He asked the victim to meet in person the night before the assault. The victim initially declined but agreed after repeated requests. 

When Montero-Lopez arrived at the victim’s residence around 1:30 a.m., the victim snuck out of her bedroom window while her parents were asleep. The two walked down a bicycle path to use narcotics provided by Montero-Lopez.

The two walked back to the victim’s residence after the victim began to feel sleepy following the use of the narcotics. 

Montero-Lopez proceeded to sexually assault the victim, who attempted to resist but was unable to. The victim later told police she was having a difficult time keeping her eyes open during the assault. 

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office was called later that day. The Sheriff’s Office conducted a forensic interview with the victim five days after the assault with one of the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Child Protection Teams.

The Child Protection Team determined that the victim had injuries consistent with sexual assault. The victim identified Montero-Lopez in a photo lineup on the same day.

Montero-Lopez was arrested by the Sheriff’s Office the following day. He declined to speak with law enforcement after the reading of his Miranda rights, according to his arrest report.

He was released on bond and later disappeared during the jury selection phase of his trial in October, according to State Attorney’s Office spokesperson Darry Lloyd. The presiding judge, James Colaw, decided to follow through with the trial without Montero-Lopez present. 

Montero-Lopez was subsequently found guilty in absentia of one count of sexual battery on a child 12-17 years of age and on one count of sexual battery with use of physical force after a two-day-trial on Oct. 19.

He was sentenced to life in prison for the first charge and to a concurrent 30-year sentence for the second charge. The victim appeared in court before the sentencing to deliver her victim impact statement.

Montero-Lopez’s whereabouts are currently unknown by law enforcement. Lloyd said law enforcement does not know if Montero-Lopez is in the Gainesville area. A capias warrant has been issued for Montero-Lopez’s arrest. The warrant is enforceable by every law enforcement agency in the country.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

Silas is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.