Man accused of preying on, impregnating girl

FOX 35 News at 5 p.m.

- Authorities in Polk County on Tuesday informed the public of a disturbing arrest.  The sheriff says a man preyed on a little girl, just 11 years old, then fled the country. Now, he's behind bars.

The arrest report states that Rony Mendez got a little girl pregnant when she was just 11, but it goes on to state that he began abusing her when she was only nine.

Back from Guatemala, Rony Mendez was escorted to Polk County in handcuffs. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was only too happy to have him back.

"Welcome to the United States criminal justice system," Judd quipped.

Mendez was in Polk County Court today, charged with three counts of sexual battery and one count of sexually molesting a victim younger than 12.  Judge Glenn Shelby agreed that Mendez would stay behind bars, for now.

Sheriff Judd says that after abusing this girl for two years, Mendez fled from his job at Palace Pizza in Bartow when he learned she was pregnant.

"He received a phone call, and it's oh my gosh, she's pregnant? He left work, told his boss he needed his check and would be back later. And he fled to Guatemala."

But out of sight, didn't mean out of mind.

"When we say we'll chase you to the ends of the earth to get you, please understand that's exactly what we did," Judd said.

The sheriff's office, FBI, and Justice Department worked with the Guatemala National Police to track Mendez to a remote village and arrested him.

"The morning of April 21, the TAG Unit with the GNP hit the house for us. Mr. Mendez was arrested without incident. Then the long extradition process started," said Terry Rahl, FBI Supervisory Special Agent.

That process took just four months - a quick turnaround, considering extraditions can often take a year or more to accomplish. Mendez shared pictures on Facebook from the Guatemalan village -- Sheriff Judd says he should update his status.

"Our goal is for you to be in the States, in prison for the rest of your life. Share that with your buddies," he said.

Mendez is being held in Polk Co Prison. He's back in court for arraignment on Sept. 13.

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