Former Providence man sentenced to serve 18 years in state prison on child molestation charges

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced that a man from Guatemala has been sentenced in Providence County Superior Court to serve 18 years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after sexually assaulting three female victims, who were under the age of 14, between 2012 and 2018.

At a hearing on June 3, 2024, Nelson Santos (age 43) entered a plea of nolo contendere to two counts of first-degree child molestation and one count of second-degree child molestation.


At the hearing, Superior Court Justice Linda Rekas Sloan sentenced the defendant to 40 years, with 18 years to serve at the ACI, a 22-year suspended sentence, and 40 years of probation.


Additionally, Judge Rekas Sloan ordered the defendant to register as a sex offender, complete sex offender counseling, and is subject to community supervision. The court also issued a No Contact Order between the defendant and the victims.


“This defendant robbed his victims of their childhood and inflicted pain upon them that can forever change the course of their lives,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Children who have been sexually abused are three to four times more likely to experience mental health issues including drug abuse, PTSD, and major depressive episodes. I hope this significant sentence sends a clear message that these crimes will not be tolerated and will be met with significant prison time. I am grateful to the victims for their courage in speaking out, and to the Providence Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security for their outstanding work.”


Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that between 2012 and 2018, the defendant sexually assaulted three female victims who were under the age of 14 and were known to him at various locations in Providence.


The molestations were discovered when one of the victim’s mothers called Providence Police following a domestic disturbance in 2018, but the defendant could not be located and was later discovered to have fled to Guatemala. While authorities prepared a Red Notice for extradition, the defendant was apprehended near Marfa, Texas when he attempted to illegally re-enter the United States. The defendant served approximately 18 months in federal custody before he was transferred to the custody of the State of Rhode Island and prosecuted for the child molestation charges.


“Sexual assaults against minors have a devastating impact on the victims and their families,” said Providence Police Colonel Oscar L. Perez, Jr. “Individuals involved in such crimes will always be priority throughout investigations of the Providence Police Department.  We thank the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security for their commitment to bringing the defendant to justice.”


Assistant Attorney General Shannon Signore of the Office of the Attorney General and Detectives Richard Mendes and Jared Sherman of the Providence Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of the case. Michael Polouski of the United States Department of Homeland Security coordinated the extradition of this defendant into state custody.