Casper Man Admits Abusing Two Girls
A Casper man admitted to sexually abusing two girls during a hearing in Natrona County District Court on Tuesday.
Hugo Mendoza-Cota, speaking through a translator to Judge Catherine Wilking, entered an Alford plea to the two counts of child abuse causing mental injury involving the girls born in 2005 and 2006. He was a caretaker for the children.
An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment that prosecutors have enough evidence to get a guilty conviction from a jury.
In exchange for the plea, Mendoza-Cote's attorney Joseph Cole and Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri agreed he would serve two concurrent three- to seven-year prison terms and would be subject to deportation after his release.
Wilking said she will defer accepting the plea until she receives the pre-sentence investigation report. The judge said she is not bound by the agreement because that is a deal between the prosecution and the defense. If she does not accept it at the to-be-determined sentencing date, Mendoza-Cota will go on trial.
According to charging documents, Casper police detectives were told of the allegations in October after one victim reportedly told a classmate at Evansville Elementary about the alleged abuse. That classmate in turn told her parents, who then told school officials.
The victim reportedly said Mendoza-Cota would enter her bedroom at night and touch her in a sexual manner. She told investigators that she sometimes would wear a zipper pajama outfit in an effort to prevent Mendoza-Cota from touching her, court papers say.
An examination of the victim by a sexual assault nurse reportedly revealed injury to one victim.
Mendoza-Cota, who was 36 when arrested, remains in custody on a $50,000 bond.