A Montgomery County man who prosecutors say led a violent street gang was sentenced to 15 years behind bars Wednesday for his role in a video-recorded and sexually charged assault of a woman.
The sentence against Andres Cortez, 21, comes after a multi-year effort by Montgomery County police and prosecutors to crack down on the “Little R” gang, which had been responsible for a string of assaults and robberies in and around the Wheaton area, according to court records.
“Mr. Cortez faces many years in prison because of the misguided glorification of the gangster lifestyle and for the sexual assault of an innocent bystander,” Montgomery State’s Attorney John McCarthy said after the sentencing.
According to his office, prosecutors have secured 20 convictions against members or associates of the gang. In court Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Cheryl A. McCally spoke to Cortez and called the video recording reprehensible.
In the footage, the victim appears to have trouble standing on her own, as several young men paw at her and reach under her shirt. At one point, the camera focuses down the exposed top portion of her pants. The young men can be heard laughing and flashing gang signs.
“Please, get your hands off me,” the victim can be heard saying. “That’s not cool.”
The video, McCally told Cortez, “is perhaps one of the most horrific things I have ever seen in my entire life. Not only for what you did to her — for what you choreographed, what you encouraged, what you set in motion, what you thought was so funny, what you were so proud of doing that night to another human being. But she was re-
victimized every single time you thought it was amusing to show it to somebody.”
The judge said she knew of Cortez showing the video to only one other person but believed that he probably showed it to many others.
“The audacity to make it, first of all, is mind-bending,” McCally said.
She suggested that Cortez displayed the video to try to advance and build up the Little R gang.
“This certainly speaks to there being a number of issues, Mr. Cortez, that plague you,” McCally said.
Cortez has an immigration detainer lodged against him, an indication that he will be deported for immigration violations after he serves his prison time in the United States.
He already had been sentenced for earlier crimes. In one, he beat another person over the head with broken bottles at a party, “causing massive slicing wounds to that individual’s head,” prosecutors Marybeth Ayres and Patrick Mays wrote in court papers.
Cortez’s attorney, Adam Harris, sought a shorter sentence — five years — arguing that it was more consistent with the sentences of three co-defendants in the sexual assault case.
Harris also said that the video recording underscored that his client didn’t assault the victim as the others did: “By any reading of what we see on that video, Mr. Cortez has the smallest role in the four.”
Cortez also spoke. “I apologize to anyone I have harmed or hurt,” he told the judge. “I apologize to my mother, and I commit to you, myself and my family that I will become a better person to prepare myself when I come back to society.”