Mancinas Flores

Jose Ramon Mancinas Flores listens as his lawyer James Miller, right, talks to Judge Thomas Fink during Monday’s sentencing.

A Mexican man accused of raping a 14-year-old girl during an illegal border crossing in 2013 was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to one count of molestation of a child under the age of 15.

Deputy County Attorney Liliana Ortega recommended that Jose Ramon Mancinas Flores, 23, receive the maximum 20-year sentence available under the deal because of his criminal history, the victim’s suffering and his lack of remorse.

“(He) does not understand how much he’s made her suffer,” Ortega said, adding that Mancinas had already been caught about a dozen times entering the United States illegally and that the victim was vulnerable.

“It’s not a coincidence that he victimized her … she was the most vulnerable,” Ortega told Judge Thomas Fink of Santa Cruz County Superior Court.

The case stems from a December 2013 incident in which Mancinas, a native of the Mexican state of Nayarit, allegedly sexually assaulted the girl multiple times while he guided a group of migrants from Oaxaca, Mexico through the desert. The group was later detained by Border Patrol agents in an area near South Arivaca Road.

Defense lawyer James Miller argued that Mancinas seemed unable to take responsibility for his actions, partly due to post-traumatic stress disorder and schizoaffective behavior diagnosed during a psychosexual evaluation.

“No one ever cared for him. His mom was a prostitute, his dad beat him and he has no education. Is it his fault? I don’t know,” Miller told the judge. “He definitely has mental health issues and needs mental health counseling.”

Miller asked Fink to consider the minimum 10-year-sentence set under the plea agreement, which was signed in May. As part of the deal, a second count of molestation was dismissed.

He also asked Fink to consider discrepancies in the police report, including a statement that Mancinas allegedly admitted to having sex with the victim twice while already in the United States, which Miller said his client never admitted to.

“I’m not accusing them of lying, just saying that they wrote what they wanted to hear,” Miller said, adding that he would’ve “loved” to have gone to trial but it was to everyone’s benefit that the case did not.

Fink, however, said the aggravating factors of the case, including the victim’s age and evidence from her medical exams, as well as Mancinas’ “apparent and complete lack of remorse,” were enough to impose the maximum 20-year sentence. He also gave Mancinas credit for 733 days served.

Mancinas had previously accepted another plea agreement with the County Attorney’s Office that would have given him a maximum prison term of 10 years, but Fink rejected the deal in October 2014 on the grounds that the 10-year-cap was “unduly low.”

The sentencing under the new plea agreement was originally scheduled for October but was postponed after Miller asked for time to evaluate the results of Mancinas’ psychosexual evaluation. Miller then filed a motion to withdraw from the plea deal, but Fink denied the request.

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