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Rodolfo DeLeon makes a first appearance in Yakima County Superior Court Friday, May 4, 2018.

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A former state Department of Social and Health Services worker could spend the rest of his life in prison for multiple charges of child rape and molestation.

Rodolfo De Leon, 51, was sentenced in Yakima County Superior Court Thursday to a minimum of 26.5 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree child rape and three counts of first-degree child molestation in October. De Leon initially was charged with 18 counts of child sexual abuse.

Under state law, sentences for Class A felony sex offenses are indeterminate, which means De Leon could serve the statutory maximum of life in prison if authorities so choose, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jared Boswell said.

Yakima police detectives said the children were known to De Leon outside his work as a social service specialist at the DSHS office in Toppenish. He was fired from his job — where he was responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect — the day he was charged.

De Leon was arrested after he turned himself in to police, saying he had sexually abused five children. A woman who learned about the allegations told De Leon that she would report him if he did not turn himself in.

The incidents are believed to have taken place as early as 2012 and as recently as April, a month prior to De Leon’s arrest, according to court documents.

The victims were all younger than 12, with some being as young as 6 or 7, according to court documents.

Judge Richard Bartheld ordered De Leon to a lifetime of probation should he be released from prison.

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