Second Man Given Life Sentence in Rape

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The petite young Latina woman stood before a Prince George's County judge yesterday and, through tears, described how the vicious sexual assault she suffered nearly two years ago has wrecked her life, leaving her jobless, anxious and afraid to be alone.

About 15 feet away, moments later, Jafet Hernandez did not change expression as he apologized to the woman and asked the judge for leniency, claiming that he was forced by other assailants to participate in the attack.

Circuit Court Judge Dwight D. Jackson didn't buy it.

"No decent human being would do that to another person," Jackson said. "I have to protect society. The only time that [the victim] should ever have to worry about having an encounter with you is in her dreams."

Jackson sentenced Hernandez, 19, of Riverdale, to life in prison. Another defendant also has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison, and a third is awaiting trial.

According to police charging documents and trial testimony, the woman and her sister-in-law were walking home from a bus stop in Riverdale Park on Oct. 20, 2005, after going to job interviews.

Two men confronted the women and demanded money, according to trial testimony and court documents. One of the men took $3 from the sister-in-law, who managed to escape and go for help, according to a police charging document.

The other woman was told she would be killed if she did not accompany the two men, and a knife was put to her side, according to the charging document.

A third man joined the first two assailants, and the victim was forced to walk to the side of a house in the 6200 block of 58th Avenue. One of the attackers raped the woman, and the second assailant -- Hernandez, according to the victim -- violated her with a wooden stick, according to the charging document.

Yesterday, through an interpreter, the woman described in Spanish how the attack has affected her. The Washington Post generally does not identify sexual assault victims without their consent.

"It's been two years since I have been able to see the light of day without fear, because this person touched me as if I was an animal, not as if I was a woman with a heart," the woman said, her voice cracking with emotion. She said Hernandez laughed as he attacked her with the stick.

About six months after the attack, Hernandez was arrested by Montgomery County police after the woman saw him in a grocery store in Silver Spring and called police.

A few weeks before that, she had seen Hernandez in Prince George's, but when she called 911, there was no one who could speak to her in Spanish, so county police were not dispatched, according to three sources familiar with the case who asked not to be identified because the incident reflects poorly on the county.

Charlynn Flaherty, who oversees the Prince George's 911 system as director of public safety communications, said yesterday she was unaware of the incident. Flaherty said Spanish-speaking people who call 911 in Prince George's are accommodated, either by emergency dispatchers who speak Spanish or with the aid of an interpreter through a three-way conversation.

In March, a Circuit Court jury found Hernandez guilty of first-degree rape, kidnapping, robbery and first-degree sex offense.

In May 2006, fellow defendant Hector Mosquera, then 28, was convicted of first-degree rape and three counts of first-degree sex offense. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison, prosecutors said.

The third man charged in the attack -- Eric Reyes, 19, of Lanham -- is scheduled for trial Oct. 5.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company