Two men get prison sentences in Rhea County child sex abuse cases

One man nets to 25 years in prison, another gets 16 years

Lorenzo Avila
Lorenzo Avila

Guilty pleas in two child sex abuse cases in Rhea County, Tennessee, have landed two men behind bars, one sentenced to 25 years in a 2020 case and another sentenced to 16 years in a case brought in 2018, court records show.

photo Andrew Vincent D'Agostino

2020 case

Andre Vincent D'Agostino, 23, of Cumberland County, Tennessee, will spend 25 years in prison on a guilty plea to child rape related to a Roane County girl who was assaulted in July 2020 when she was 12, according to 12th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney David Shinn.

D'Agostino was originally indicted on nine counts of child rape, and that was reduced to one count in a Feb. 28 plea before Circuit Court Judge J. Curtis Smith, records show.

(READ MORE: McMinn County woman accused of having sex with underage boys makes first court appearance)

The judgment in D'Agostino's case will be entered into the court record after sentencing in related cases in Roane and Cumberland counties is resolved, records state.

D'Agostino made contact with the girl online, Shinn said Thursday in a telephone interview.

"She was on a dating app and on her phone and began talking to the guy," Shinn said. "He came and picked her up down the street from her house."

Shinn described D'Agostino's actions in the July 2020 incident as transitory.

"He picked up a 12-year-old girl in Roane County, brought her down to Spring City, spent an afternoon at a remote creek and sexually abused her and then took her back to Crossville in Cumberland County and sexually abused her and brought her home the next day," he said.

Authorities were already hot on his trail because the girl had been away from home overnight, Rhea County sheriff's investigator Rocky Potter said Thursday in a telephone interview.

(READ MORE: Court documents show youngest victim was 14 in statutory rape case against McMinn County woman)

Potter said the girl's family had reported her missing, triggering a local search of potential locations where she might be. Local authorities and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation were in town. Shinn said a clerk at a nearby store provided the tip authorities needed.

"When he brought her home the next day, he dropped her off at a convenience store that was just down the street from her house where he picked her up, and TBI and Roane County authorities were looking for her," Shinn said. "Somebody from the convenience store recognized her when he dropped her off, and they called the police."

When authorities found the girl at the store, they used her phone to text D'Agostino posing as her, according to Shinn.

"The guy came back to the store, and that's when they arrested him," Shinn said.

D'Agostino will serve his sentence at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, according to Tennessee Department of Correction records.

photo Lorenzo Avila

2018 case

In another sentencing hearing on child sex charges, Lorenzo Avila, 36, received a 16-year sentence on a guilty plea to two counts of aggravated sexual battery, records show.

Circuit Court Judge Thomas W. Graham sentenced Avila on Feb. 9 to eight years in prison on each count, to be served consecutively, court records show.

(READ MORE: Hamilton County DA asking public to help locate more victims of alleged child rapist)

Avila can reduce the sentence with good behavior, Shinn said, in which case Avila's sentence would be reduced to about 13-and-a-half years.

Shinn said it was a few years after the incidents when the girl came to authorities to disclose what had happened, leading to Avila's arrest.

(READ MORE: Grundy County man gets 150-year sentence in child rape case)

Avila originally faced five counts of child rape and four counts of aggravated sexual battery, records show. Four of the child rape counts and two aggravated sexual battery counts were dropped in the plea agreement.

Potter, also the investigator in that case, said Avila was a trusted acquaintance of the girl's family and the incidents spanned a period of almost a year. Court records state the incidents happened between Aug. 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014.

Shinn said there is also an immigration hold on Avila that won't come into play until the end of Avila's prison term.

Rhea County jail officials said Avila is still being held at the county facility and hasn't been transferred to state custody yet.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.