Wednesday, April 17, 2002/lk
What began as a lark for a teenage girl last December turned into a "date rape" horror story that ended in court on Monday.
"This has to be every parent's nightmare, she (daughter) sneaked out of the house and got herself in a situation she couldn't handle and she ended up getting raped," Hood River Sex Crimes Prosecutor Shelley Webb told Judge Paul Crowley.
Manuel Chamonica Sonato, 20, pleaded guilty in Circuit Court on April 15 to third-degree rape and second degree sex abuse in the case involving a 14-year-old girl.
He was ordered by Judge Paul Crowley to serve 150 days in jail as part of 60 months of probation and sex offender treatment. In addition, Sonato was directed to pay $1,500 in counseling fees for the victim, $500 for domestic violence programs, $300 of attorney fees and a $105 court fine.
Sonato, an illegal alien, also faces a formal deportation hearing before the Immigration and Naturalization Services. If he is allowed to remain in the United States, or returns at a later date, Crowley ordered him to register for life as a sex offender wherever he resides or face other penalties. He is also prohibited from any contact with the victim, her family, or other minors.
Jack Morris, Sonato's attorney, hinted that the sexual act between the adult and minor might have been consensual, but Crowley said after reviewing the facts of the case he was "quite comfortable this would be a crime in any state in this country and also in Mexico."
"What is most unfortunate about the fact that you'll probably be deported is that you'll get released in society as an untreated offender," said Crowley. "It's going to be up to you to make your life whole."
Webb said the young victim, who is introverted by nature, did not come forward with the rape report immediately because she was afraid of getting into trouble for leaving the house without permission during her Christmas break.
However, when her friend and accomplice began commenting on her emotionally distraught behavior, Webb said the victim finally confessed what had happened on a dark road somewhere in Pine Grove. That story was overhead by a school employee who called in the police for an investigation.
Upon questioning, Sonato admitted that he had sexual intercourse with the girl in spite of her protests but had stopped when she complained of pain. He also acknowledged that he knew she was only 14 years old.
"To his benefit Mr. Sonato has been forthcoming, this has probably been a nightmare for him as well -- this is a tragedy for everyone involved," said Webb.
The incident occurred when the victim accepted a ride from Sonato after sneaking out of her home with the friend who was spending the night. The friend, who was riding with her boyfriend, called once to arrange a meeting place but the victim handed her cell phone to Sonato to give directions because she did not know where they were.
At that point he took control of the phone which went unanswered when the friend attempted to connect with the victim two more times. The rape occurred in an orchard somewhere in the lower valley but the victim was unable to pinpoint the exact location during the subsequent police investigation.