Thursday, April 26, 2007

An illegal immigrant from Ecuador admits to helping a rapist - an illegal alien from Honduras - commit a sexual assault

Peggy Wright:

A 25-year-old painter admitted Tuesday that he helped a stranger pin a woman to the ground in Morristown so the man could have an easier time raping her.

Juan Antonio Amendano, who is in this country illegally from Ecuador, pleaded guilty in state Superior Court, Morristown, to aggravated sexual assault on July 10, 2005, on a woman who was identified as an intern from London temporarily living in Morristown.

Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Maggie Calderwood offered Amendano a plea deal of 10 years in prison, which could be lowered to eight years if he fully cooperates in the prosecution of co-defendant Joel A. Romero of Morristown.

A 27-year-old illegal alien from Honduras, Romero is accused of the sexual assault, while Amendano admitted Tuesday to acting as an accomplice .

Romero has not accepted a 30-year plea offer but was brought into court Tuesday so Amendano could identify him.

Both men have been held in the Morris County jail on $250,000 bail since their arrests moments after the attack was cut short by police. Amendano was transferred after his plea to the Sussex County jail because he believes his life may be in danger in the Morris jail. At his bail hearing in 2005, he told a judge: "I wish them to forgive me for what I did."

Amendano, through a Spanish-to-English interpreter, gave Judge Joseph A. Falcone the following sequence of events:

He said he and two friends parted ways during their walk home from a night of drinking at another friend's home. Alone, Amendano said, he heard a scream coming from the vicinity of a set of railroad tracks and a market.

Authorities have said the then-20-year-old woman got separated from friends at a pub on Dehart Street and started walking home alone around 2 a.m. She was grabbed from behind on Lafayette Avenue around 2:05 a.m. and dragged into woods between the Staples parking lot on Lafayette Avenue and Olyphant Drive.

Amendano told Falcone that he set down the beer he was carrying and went to investigate the screams and a choking noise.

"When I got there, the guy was on top of the lady," Amendano said.

He said neither the woman nor the stranger had on clothes, and he realized the woman was in the process of being raped. He said the stranger -- whom he later learned was Romero --told him to cover the woman's mouth, punch her stomach or choke her to stop her struggle. At one point he said he also got on top of the woman but then said he held down her chest and stomach.

Amendano agreed when the judge asked: "Did you believe he was asking you to give him a better shot at raping her?"

"I saw that he was on top of her and she was screaming,"Amendano said. "It came to my mind he was abusing her -- he was having sex with her."

He said he started running when he heard police sirens. Neighbors who heard screams had called 911. Officers nabbed Amendano as he ran and Romero was caught, allegedly in the act of assaulting the woman.

Amendano's sentencing was tentatively set for Aug. 3, but it could be delayed if Romero goes to trial in May. He also must be evaluated for sexual deviations at the state's Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center at Avenel. He was told he would have to register as a convicted sex offender under Megan's Law once released from prison, but defense lawyer Anthony Alfano said that Amendano, who is married, most likely will be deported to Ecuador when his sentence is over.

These two filthy animals should be executed!


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