East Bay News
Richmond gang rape instigator gets 32 years in prison
MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- The man considered the instigator of a horrific attack on a 16-year-old girl outside a homecoming dance at Richmond High School received a long prison sentence Friday.
The plea deal came after jury selection had started in the trial of Manuel Ortega. Had he been found guilty by a jury, Ortega could have faced life in prison. Instead, he entered a plea that will put him behind bars for three decades.
Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga had few words for 22-year-old Ortega, the admitted attacker and primary instigator of a horrific gang rape that traumatized a Richmond community three years ago. In exchange for a plea of guilty to charges that included rape in concert, rape with a foreign object and sexual assault with great bodily injury, Ortega received 32 years in state prison.
"What weighed the need for justice in this case with the needs and sensitivities to the victim in this case and what would she go through if she were going to have to testify," prosecutor John Cope said.
The rape occurred in October 2009 after the 16-year-old Richmond student left a homecoming dance. She met up with a group of boys and men in a dark courtyard. Over a two hour period, she was beaten, robbed and raped repeatedly, while others watched and no one called police.
Ortega was the most heavily charged of six defendants.
"He wishes he could undo that night; he never wanted to happen what happened," Ortega's attorney Betty Barker said. "What I can tell you is that if it weren't for the intoxication that Mr. Ortega frequently suffered that he would be in a different place."
In court, Ortega's mother said she loved her son, but was very sorry for what happened to the young girl.
Even with time off for good behavior, Ortega will be in prison until he is nearly 50 years old.
"I think his one wish would be that when he gets out, his parents, his mother will still be alive and he could see her," Barker said.
There are still five defendants headed to trial in this case. In the years since the incident, the West Contra Costa School District settled with the victim for $4 million and put surveillance systems in all its middle and high schools.
richmond, crime, richmond rape, sex crimes, east bay news, laura anthony
- Man killed after metal pipe crashes into car on I-580
- Obama to visit tornado-ravaged Oklahoma town
- Passenger vehicles face surprise inspections at SFO
- Crews control two-alarm grass fire in San Jose
- Overhead wire problems disrupt service on Muni 29 min ago
- UK officials: Radical Islam drives London attack 8 min ago
- Man shot to death while questioned in Boston probe
- 49ers Michael Crabtree tears right Achilles tendon
- IRS official Lois Lerner: I did nothing wrong
- Arias jury deadlocked but must keep deliberating
- Snacking deputy's crash costs Santa Clara Co. $5M
- abcnews: Top 10 highest-paid CEOs
- roundup: Harvey Milk events; SF shooting
- weather: Bay Area weather forecast for Wednesday
Most Viewed StoriesMost Viewed VideoMost Viewed Photos