Two immigrants from Mexico working as roofers in Washington County have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the rape of a mentally challenged woman last year at a home on Wylie Avenue in Washington, Pa.
Jesus Tapia Montes, 37, and Elmer Ramirez, 44, both of whom federal authorities said were living in the U.S. illegally, entered guilty pleas Monday in U.S. District Court in Wheeling, W.Va., to transporting a person across state lines for sex.
They could each get as many as 10 years behind bars but probably won't receive that maximum term. Both are facing deportation proceedings.
The FBI said the men abducted a 19-year-old woman, who functions at about the level of a 12-year-old, from outside her home in Wheeling on July 7 and drove her to Mr. Tapia's residence on Wylie Avenue.
Agents said they kept her against her will and raped her repeatedly for four days before returning her to Wheeling on July 11. The FBI found the men's DNA on her hair and skin, and the men did not deny that they had sex with her.
But both argued in a series of motions that she went with them willingly and that she consented to sex. They also argued in motions last week that both have such low IQs that they could not perceive that the woman was mentally challenged. Federal prosecutors said she could not consent to sex because of her condition.
The case was initially difficult to figure out because the woman could not describe the men, their car or where they went.
The case was further complicated by the fact that she initially denied having sex with the men when questioned by police. Friends of the two men also told the FBI that she did not appear to be held against her will. It was only in a later forensic interview at a child advocacy center, with FBI agents watching, that the woman said the two held her captive and forced themselves on her.
Wheeling police and the FBI retraced Mr. Montes' movements by his cell phone records. The FBI said the call pattern indicated the two men were circling the Elm Grove area of Wheeling, where the woman lives, "looking for a victim."
No sentencing date has been set.
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510.