A 26-year-old man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after he was convicted of raping and impregnating a 10-year-old girl, a Florida judge ruled.
Rony Otoniel Mendez learned his fate Wednesday after a Polk County jury found him guilty of three counts of sexual battery on a child under 12 and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation on a child. His sentence does not include the option of parole, the Lakeland Ledger reported.
Mendez was accused of having sexually abused the child at least three times, beginning when she was just 9 years old in late 2013, authorities said.
By November of the following year, the girl informed officials that she was pregnant. She gave birth to a child in May of 2015.
Authorities said Mendez, who is a citizen of Guatemala, fled to his home country shortly after learning about the girl’s pregnancy and was extradited to the U.S. ahead of his trial. DNA tests, using personal items he had left behind, confirmed that Mendez is the child’s father.
The state attorney’s office celebrated Wednesday’s sentencing in a Facebook post that lauded the work of the authorities “in bringing this sexual predator to justice.”