Noted for being the main instigator in one of the Bay Area's most horrific crimes, Manuel Ortega, who ripped a Richmond High School girl's clothes off, punched and kicked her in the head, and raped her while encouraging others outside a homecoming dance at Richmond High School, was sentenced to only 32 years in prison on Friday.
Mercury News reports:
Ortega pleaded guilty in September to four felonies -- rape in concert, rape by a foreign object in concert, forced oral copulation in concert resulting in great bodily injury and robbery -- in an agreement that spared a possible life sentence for Ortega, whom a prosecutor described as a "main participant" in the gang rape that made national headlines.
Betty Barker, a deputy public defender who defended Ortega, stupidly and carelessly blamed the gang rape on underage drinking. "If he could turn the clock back he would, but he can't, so the best he can do is ... plead guilty to spare the victim and his own family the stress of a trial," said Barker outside the courthouse, adding, "He hopes other people learn from his drinking problem."
The case brief national media attention when it happened three years ago. The teenage victim was leaving her school's homecoming dance on campus with a 15-year-old who lured her into a dark corner with other men. After becoming heavily intoxicated, she was beaten, robbed and raped for over two hours while dozens of other men watched.
The school district agreed to pay the victim $4 million after they failed to get proper security for the dance.
The remaining five defendants -- Ari Morales, 18, of San Pablo; Marcelles Peter, 20, of Pinole; and Richmond residents Elvis Torrentes, 24, Jose Montano, 21, and John Crane, 45 -- still face sentencing. Morales, Peter, Montano and Crane face life in prison, while Torrentes faces up to only eight years. Their hearings will be heard next week.