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Convicted rapist sentenced to 57 months for re-entering U.S. illegally

Rogelio Mendez, 37, of Jackson Heights.

Rogelio Mendez, 37, of Jackson Heights. Credit: NYDOCCS

A Mexican citizen convicted of raping a woman in Southampton after twice being deported was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison Wednesday, officials said.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Feuerstein imposed the sentence on Rogelio Mendez, 37, of Jackson Heights, after he pleaded guilty to illegally re-entering the United States, according to officials. He will face a deportation hearing after serving the federal sentence.

The federal prison sentence is in addition to a 30-month sentence that Mendez is currently  serving in state prison for the 2016 rape in Southampton, federal prosecutors said in court papers.

"Mendez repeatedly showed contempt for the rule of law by re-entering the United States twice after he was first deported,” Eastern District United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “The Department of Justice has made criminal immigration enforcement a priority, and today’s sentence should serve as a deterrent to others who would illegally return to the United States after having been deported.”

Before he was sentenced, Mendez spoke to Feuerstein but his words could not be clearly heard.

Mendez’s attorney, federal public defender Tracey Gaffey, said her client said if he had a chance to do things over he would have acted legally.

Gaffey said that a consecutive sentence amounted to a violation of her client’s plea agreement. The agreement called for 46 to 57 months in prison, but such a term is usually served concurrently with other sentences, she said.

Feuerstein disagreed but did not further explain her sentencing .

Mendez was first deported from the United States in 2004 after he served two years in state prison for criminal possession of a loaded firearm in Queens, papers filed by federal prosecutors said. Eastern District prosecutor Bradley King said that Mendez first entered the country illegally in 1993 when he was 14 years old.

Mendez then illegally re-entered the United States in 2005, and “was again deported in March of 2009,” the papers said.

“In approximately 2010, despite his multiple deportations, the defendant again illegally re-entered the United States,” the court papers said.

Mendez's victim in the 2016 rape was in court Wednesday but did not speak until after the proceedings.

Federal prosecutors said an impact statement filed by the victim — identified as Ms. Doe —  shows that the aftermath has made her life “an ongoing living ‘Hell’ and ‘nightmare.’”

In her impact statement, the victim said she has not had a full night of sleep since 2016 and that she wakes up frequently at night to check her surroundings and fears being attacked.

“Every morning when I wake up, I have to remind myself that my attacker won’t be able to hurt me today," she wrote. "It hurts emotionally and physically to even make it to work in the morning. I try not to shake with fear. I can’t sleep most nights without nightmares of my attacker. I can’t sleep at night without a light on, like a child. I have nightmares of being touched, and I can’t wake up I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since September [2016]..."

Outside the courtroom, the victim said her case showed that immigration laws and criminal laws have to be more rigorously enforced. She said her case was  “an example of how immigration laws allow the employment of people” like the defendant. The victim then began to cry and could not continue the conversation.

On the evening of the attack, Mendez and the victim, along with a friend of the victim and one of Mendez's co-workers, went to a house where seasonal restaurant workers lived during their employment, according to the court papers and sources. The victim did not know Mendez.

The restaurant where Mendez and the male co-worker were employed was not identified in court papers. Mendez's co-worker was the boyfriend of the victim's friend.

At the house, “The victim fell asleep and 'awoke to the defendant raping her,'" the court papers said.

“Ms. Doe told the defendant to stop and then fought for her safety, throwing punches at the defendant,” the papers said.

She fled to another room, where Mendez “attempted to rape her again,” the papers said. “After pushing and kicking the defendant, who was attempting to ‘block’ her escape, Ms Doe was able to leave the bedroom and send a text message to her friend seeking help,” the papers said.

Mendez pleaded guilty to rape in Suffolk County court in 2017 and was sentenced to the 30 months in state prison, the papers said. 

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