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Santa Rosa man gets prison for raping student at SRJC swim center

Published: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 4:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 4:19 p.m.

A Santa Rosa man was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for raping a fellow student from his nighttime dance class at Santa Rosa Junior College.

Marco Antonio Deanda-Vargas, 31, received the low term for the attack that happened March 15, 2012, in a campus swim center.

He faced a maximum 24 years in prison for three counts of sexual assault including sodomy and digital penetration but reached a plea bargain with prosecutors on the eve of trial that limited his maximum sentence to six years.

His victim, a 24-year-old classmate identified in court only as Jane Doe, told the judge she still had nightmares of the attack by a man she once thought was gay.

The woman described how Deanda-Vargas befriended her over time and shared personal details of his life, including that he possessed keys to various campus buildings and kept belongings in a broom closet.

They were talking after class the night of the attack when Deanda-Vargas suggested they go into the Quinn Swim Center to get out of the cold. He unlocked the door and led her inside where he raped her, she said.

With Deanda-Vargas seated at the defense table a dozen feet away, she described how he pulled off her clothes, pushed her to the ground and forced her to have intercourse.

"I was crying and yelling at him," she said, keeping her eyes averted from him in court. "He told me to shut up and covered my mouth."

He did not speak at the sentencing.

After the attack, she said, she ran into the bathroom and discovered she was bleeding. He forced her to hug him and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone, she said.

"What he did to me was pure evil," she said.

She said fear and shame kept her from reporting the attack to police until the next day. Deanda-Vargas was arrested and has been in custody for the past year.

Now, the victim said, she lives in fear that others will attack her. She suffers migraines, nightmares and has trouble sleeping, she said.

"Most of the time, I cry myself to sleep," she said. "The pain is really intense . . . It haunts me daily."

Deanda-Vargas maintained the sex was consensual. His lawyer said the possibility of a 24-year sentence influenced his decision to plead no contest to a single count of rape.

Under the agreement, Judge Robert LaForge could have sentenced Deanda-Vargas to up to six years.

The judge said his lack of a criminal record and his willingness to settle the case were factors in deciding on a three-year term.

He's expected to be released in less than two years with credit for time already served. He also must register for life as a sex offender and faces the possibility of deportation. You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com

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