Joe Lopez, co-founder of the Grammy-winning Tejano band Grupo Mazz, has been granted parole
Grammy-winning Tejano singer Joe Lopez, 67, is about to be released from prison after serving 11 years for raping his 13-year-old niece.
Lopez, a co-founder of the popular band Grupo Mazz, was sentenced to a total of 32 years in prison – 20 years for aggravated sexual assault of a child, eight years for another count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and four for indecency with a child.
Because his multiple sentences were served simultaneously, he was up for parole as soon as October 2016.
The Texas parole board actually decided to grant Lopez parole last January, but then reneged on their decision when his victim, Krystal Lopez, appeared before the board.
Krystal, now 27 and the mother of a nine-year-old son, said she wasn’t informed that they were having a parole hearing for her uncle, and petitioned to speak in front of them when they learned they wanted to free him.
Lopez (pictured left and right) was sentenced to 32 years in 2006 for raping his 13-year-old niece
His multiple sentences were served simultaneously, so he was granted parole after 11 years
The parole board changed their decision, ordering Lopez instead to complete a nine-month Sex Offender Education Program.
Krystal’s win was only temporary though, as Lopez recently came up for parole again and was granted his freedom on January 26.
The Valley Morning Star reports that the release process for Lopez will take between 30 to 45 days.
While no exact release day has been revealed yet, Houston victim advocate Andy Kahan says it could be as early as mid-February.
After his release, Lopez will be required to register as a sex offender and will be in ‘supervised parole’ through October 31, 2026.
He has been ordered not to contact Krystal and can’t enter Harris County without prior approval.
Lopez’s victim, Krystal Lopez (pictured), spoke in front of a parole board last year, trying to get her attacker held behind bars. She is now 27
Throughout the trial, Lopez denied the accusations that he raped his niece, saying it was a lie made up to extort him out of millions of dollars.
He even provided a note that she sent him, demanding $35million to stay quiet.
Krystal says the extortion was something that her father, Lopez’s brother, pressured her into doing and she never intended to follow through.
As part of the sex offender program he went through, Lopez was required to admit his guilt.
It also came to light in court documents last year that Lopez impregnated a 14-year-old girl.
His lawyer, Bill Habern, said Lopez didn’t know he had slept with a minor because ‘she looked mature for her age’.
Habern says he believes his client is innocent.
Lopez is pictured above after his guilty verdict was read in Brownsville, Texas court in 2006
‘It’s about time they released him,’ Habern said. ‘I think he’s an innocent man. I think eventually he’ll be proven to be innocent.’
While victims of sexual assault have the choice to protect their identities, Krystal said she decided to speak publicly about her rape.
‘It’s not a big secret,’ she told the Valley Morning Star last year. ‘People are bashing my name in the Internet. (Lopez) wants to put his name out there on everything. I can, too. I’m going to put my name out there and not be afraid.’
Lopez’s band, Grupo Mazz, won the Grammy for Best Tejano Album at the Grammy Awards in 2004 – the year he raped his niece at his condo in Rancho Viejo.
The band won Best Tejano Album four times at the Latin Grammy Awards from 2001-2004.