A professional clown was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to snatching a 12-year-old girl from a Taco Bell restaurant and raping her while wearing his costume and makeup, officials said.
Jose Guadalupe Jimenez, aka El Tin Larin, a 43-year-old Anaheim resident, was arrested last year in Newport Beach after a DNA sample linked him to the decade-old rape case.
Just before midnight on Jan. 19, 2002, Jimenez approached his victim outside a Taco Bell on Lemon Street and Commonwealth Avenue in Fullerton, prosecutors said. Dressed in clown regalia and makeup, he grabbed the girl by the wrists, yanked her into his car and drove to an area near Ladera Vista Junior High School.
There, he raped the girl inside the car and then drove to a motel on Harbor Boulevard. The girl escaped when Jimenez left the vehicle to talk to the motel clerk.
But the case went cold for nine years, until police arrested Jimenez for an unrelated misdemeanor and collected his DNA. The sample tied him to the abduction and assault in 2002.
On Wednesday, in a plea bargain struck with prosecutors, Jimenez admitted guilt to one count of lewd acts upon a child under 14 and one count of forcible lewd acts upon a child. A charge of aggravated sexual assault against a child was dismissed, said Deputy District Attorney Katherine David.
Jimenez could have faced 25 years to life if convicted at trial. But the plea deal was formulated based on evidence in the case, the availability of witnesses and the wishes of the victim. Jimenez was given credit for 650 days served in jail and must serve at least 85 percent of the 10-year sentence.
The conviction also counts as two strikes against him and he will have to register for life as a sex offender, David said.
- City News Service contributed to this report.