California sheriff: 'Screw-up' behind release of molester

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(Merced County Sheriff's Office via AP). This undated photo provided by the Merced County Sheriff's office shows Primitivo Gonzalez. A California sheriff says a "screw-up" led to the mistaken release of Gonzalez, who had pleaded guilty to child molesta... (Merced County Sheriff's Office via AP). This undated photo provided by the Merced County Sheriff's office shows Primitivo Gonzalez. A California sheriff says a "screw-up" led to the mistaken release of Gonzalez, who had pleaded guilty to child molesta...

MERCED, Calif. (AP) - A California sheriff says a "screw-up" led to the mistaken release of an inmate who had pleaded guilty to child molestation.

The Merced Sun-Star reported Thursday that Merced County jailers mistakenly allowed 38-year-old Primitivo Gonzalez to post bail on Nov. 22.

Gonzalez had pleaded guilty to repeatedly molesting a 5-year-old girl.

A judge had ordered him held without bail until sentencing, when he faced 35 years-to-life in prison.

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke says he takes responsibility for the mistaken release and has taken steps to prevent a repeat.

The sheriff defends not making public the man's release.

He says he believed Gonzalez quickly returned to Mexico and is no longer a threat in Merced County.

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Information from: Merced Sun-Star, http://www.mercedsun-star.com

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