LOS ANGELES, February 5, 2007 - A man who kidnapped two women during a birthday party in 1991 and was among those who gang-raped the victims during a seven- hour attack was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to 862 years in prison.
Fernando Maldonado, now 35, eluded capture for more than a decade before being captured in 2002 after crossing the border into the United States from Mexico. In sentencing him Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell said the sentence will "ensure that you will never, ever victimize other women" like he did on the night of the rapes nearly 16 years ago.
During a hearing last month, the two women urged the judge to impose the maximum punishment for Maldonado, who was one of four men who attacked them at gunpoint.
"Almost 16 years ago, I had finished celebrating my birthday with some of my closest friends, not knowing that in a few moments ... my life would be changed forever," one of the women said.
The woman, who was celebrating her 23rd birthday when she was assaulted, said she wants Maldonado to "be taken away from his security the way he took us that night, (and) placed in a controlled environment as he kept us."
The other victim said the night ended "with a never-ending nightmare -- a nightmare set in motion by Mr. Maldonado."
"We were taken against our will and were raped for several hours by Mr. Maldonado and three other men. The live, assertive and happy young women that we were during the early hours of that night vanished completely at the hands of Mr. Maldonado and his friends," she said.
Maldonado was convicted Nov. 29 of 100 counts, including forcible gang rape, forcible oral copulation, forcible sodomy and kidnapping.
Deputy District Attorney Beatriz Dieringer said she was pleased that Kennedy-Powell "imposed what she felt was the maximum sentence."
Even if Maldonado gets credit for good behavior, his sentence will still total 431 years behind bars, which means he will die in prison, Dieringer said. In addition to the prison time, Kennedy-Powell ordered him to pay up to $10,000 in restitution to the victims.
Maldonado and an accomplice kidnapped the pair at gunpoint near the Beverly Center on Feb. 8, 1991.
The women were taken to Maldonado's apartment in the 2900 block of Leeward Street in Los Angeles, where they were joined by two gang members. The four repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted the women for nearly seven hours before releasing them, according to the prosecutor.
Maldonado, who had also lived in San Francisco and Oakland, was arrested by Border Patrol agents near Amado, Ariz., on Nov. 26, 2002, after it was discovered that he had outstanding warrants for rape in Los Angeles and drug offenses in San Francisco.
He was on his way back into United States from his home country of Honduras at the time and has been jailed since. Kennedy-Powell said Maldonado had been engaged in "two-bit drug dealing." From now on, she said, "You will be with people like yourself, which is the only safe place for you."
One of the gang members, Julian Chacon, was sentenced in 1994 to 225 years in prison, and another of the rapists was killed in a drive-by shooting in late 1991, according to the District Attorney's Office. The fourth assailant remains at large.