A Guatemalan man has been jailed for life for raping and impregnating an 10-year-old girl.
Rony Otoniel Mendez was jailed without parole in Tampa, Florida, last Friday for repeatedly attacking the girl in her mother’s bedroom between 2013 and 2014.
The abuse began when she was just nine and was revealed when doctors discovered she was pregnant during a visit to hospital.
A DNA test later proved Mendez was the baby’s father.
The 26-year-old was extradited back to the US last year after fleeing to his native Guatemala when he suspected he would be arrested.
He was convicted of three sexual battery charges and one charge of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12 in Tampa on Friday and given three life sentences without the possibility of parole, The Ledger reports.
Mendez was 23 when he first abused the girl, who was nine at the time, by fondling her breasts through her clothes in 2013.
On three separate occasions the following year, he raped her in her mother’s bedroom while she was at work.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office revealed last year that he told the child not to tell anyone about the abuse because ‘they would both be in trouble’.
The girl’s mother took her to hospital in 2014 concerned when she began vomiting. She believed the symptoms had been caused by recent vaccinations.
Doctors tested the child’s urine as part of a routine work-up and discovered she was pregnant. The girl initially denied ever having been raped by Mendez despite her mother’s suspicions.
Before police could get to him, Mendez fled the country after being confronted by the girl’s mother on the phone.
He even went to their home to retrieve some of his belongings before going on the run. After he had left the country, the girl admitted to having been abused.
Mendez was arrested by the FBI in Guatemala in April last year and extradited back to Florida to face the charges.
On Friday, he did not speak and required a translator throughout proceedings. His lawyer, public defender Marlisa DeMond, attempted to undermine the girl’s testimony.
She said the child had been ‘encouraged’ by officials to give details of the sexual abuse and that her versions of events were inconsistent.
A jury took less than two hours to convict the sexual predator.
Mendez’s immigrant status in the US is not clear. According to US Immigration law, a non-citizen can face deportation if he or she has committed an ‘aggravated felony’.
There is no specific list of crimes to match the description and cases are reviewed individually.