A Santa Rosa Junior College student was sentenced in Sonoma County Superior Court this morning to three years in prison for raping a coed in the college’s swim center last year. Marco DeAnda-Vargas, 31, was charged with three forced sexual offenses, possession of burglary tools and receiving stolen property. In January, as his trial was set to begin, he pleaded no contest to forcible rape and possession of stolen property in return for a maximum sentence of six years in prison. He had faced a potential 24-year prison term if he was convicted of all the charges, Deputy Public Defender Joseph Bisbiglia said. Bisbiglia said DeAnda-Vargas always claimed the sex was consensual.
Judge Robert LaForge sentenced DeAnda-Vargas to the minimum three-year term for the March 15, 2012, rape. He has more than a year’s credit for time served in county jail and will likely spend 18 months in prison, Bisbiglia said. The 24-year-old victim never looked at DeAnda-Vargas as she read from a lengthy written statement in court this morning, and DeAnda-Vargas said nothing in his defense. The slight, blonde woman said she met DeAnda-Vargas in a dance class at the college. She said he introduced himself as a teacher’s aide and they became friends. She said she became comfortable with DeAnda-Vargas and thought she knew him well. “I became vulnerable and he took advantage of that,” she said. DeAnda-Vargas had keys to the Quinn Swim Center, and a week before the rape, he showed the victim a utility closet where he would sleep, she said.
She said that on the night of the rape, she was cold while she waited for her boyfriend to pick her up at the junior college, and she and DeAnda-Vargas went into the swim center. “He was normal then all of a sudden his personality changed,” she said. DeAnda-Vargas committed three forcible sex acts including the rape, and told her not to tell anyone, she said. “He was just a very manipulative person. I want him held accountable. I want there to be justice,” she said. She said she didn’t call police that night because she was afraid and ashamed. Santa Rosa police were informed the next day. Deputy District Attorney Barbara Nanney said the six-year term recommended by the probation department was appropriate. “It was a horror she will never forget,” Nanney said. Bisbiglia questioned whether the victim was vulnerable because she was well acquainted with DeAnda-Vargas and socialized with him. “I got to know him and he is not the individual described in these charges,” Bisbiglia said in his argument for a three-year sentence. After the sentencing, 21-year-old Leah Gerber, of Santa Rosa, said she also met DeAnda-Vargas in the jazz dance class six years ago and came to court to support him today. She said she knows DeAnda Vargas well and doesn’t believe he raped the victim. “He’s not like that, he’s very gentle,” she said.