Crime

Man accused of impregnating 11-year-old is back in Florida

Rony Mendez, accused of sexually molesting, sexually battering and impregnating an 11-year-old
Rony Mendez, accused of sexually molesting, sexually battering and impregnating an 11-year-old Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Rony Mendez’s sudden exit from Polk County back to his native Guatemala in 2014 wasn’t to escape economic responsibility for the child he had fathered. It was, Polk County Sheriff’s Office said, to escape responsibility for impregnating the child’s mother — 11 years old at the time.

WIth help from the FBI and Guatemalan National Police, Polk County authorities brought Mendez, now 25, back to Florida to face three counts of sexual battery on a child under 12 and one count of lewd molestation.

The Polk sheriff’s office says DNA tests done on the baby, born in spring 2015, and items Mendez left behind confirm the man’s paternity.

Mendez packed up for Guatemala late in November 2014. The sheriff’s office says the girl’s mother called the agency on Nov. 26, 2014. A visit to the Polk County Health Department unveiled her daughter’s loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting weren’t a reaction to vaccinations. She was pregnant.

The mother told detectives she suspected Mendez, who apparently lived with the family.

When detectives went to Mendez’s place of work, they say, his employer said he left to handle what he called “an emergency.” Detectives say that’s when they learned the mother had already called Mendez to ask if he’d molested her daughter. She told detectives he grabbed his stuff and left, likely for Guatemala.

Polk County sheriff’s officials says her daughter told special victims unit detectives that Mendez fondled her once and raped her three times. The sheriff’s office put out a warrant for Mendez’s arrest on Nov. 27, 2014.

On Dec. 2, 2014, the victim’s mother told detectives Mendez called her from Guatemala. That’s where he remained, free, until the Guatemalan National Police arrested him on April 21.

On Monday,the FBI and Polk sheriff’s deputies took custody of Mendez and brought him back to Florida.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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