Clifton man accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl sentenced to 5 years in prison

File Photo: Erik Bryan Rios was sentenced to 5 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor.

Will be placed on lifetime sexual offender probation upon release

By Jon Johnson

CLIFTON – A man who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl will spend his next few years in prison. 

Erik Bryan Rios, 23, of Clifton, was sentenced Thursday by Greenlee County Superior Court Judge Monica L. Stauffer to 5 years in prison. Rios was initially charged with three counts of sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15. He later accepted a plea agreement and plead guilty to two counts of attempted sexual conduct with a minor. Upon his release from prison, he will be placed on lifetime sexual offender probation. 

According to Greenlee County Attorney Jeremy Ford, Judge Stauffer had discretion in the plea to sentence Rios up to 15 years in prison but chose the mitigated sentence instead. 

After the victim’s parents learned of her relationship with Rios, authorities began an investigation to gather evidence. One vital piece was the victim’s phone, which held pictures and video in a locked folder in the Snapchat application. 

The Snapchat video shows the victim and Rios in bed at a hotel in Thatcher in October 2020 in which Rios shows off hickeys on his chest while cuddling with the victim. The victim is shown clothed only in a bra and Rios is shirtless while a sheet covers their lower bodies. 

When questioned about the video, the victim advised that she and Rios went to the hotel a few times and that they engaged in sexual intercourse there. She said the other times they were sexually active all occurred in Rios’ bedroom at a residence in Clifton. 

In an interview with Clifton Police Chief Omar Negrete, Rios initially allegedly denied having any relationship with the victim and said he only knew her because she was friends with his cousin. 

Upon his arrest, Rios allegedly told the investigators, “I never had sex with her.” However, when asked if he wanted an attorney present before answering questions he allegedly replied, “It’s hard to rat yourself out when you know you messed up.”

Rios then allegedly admitted to the relationship and said they had sex a few times at the hotel in Thatcher and a few times at his residence in Clifton and that he had lied to Chief Negrete. 

Rios allegedly said that no matter how this all comes out he will look like a terrible person and that he “(expletive deleted) up,” and “broke the law.”