Originally posed at 11:19 a.m. July 3, 2014. Edited to add more details.
By PAUL ANDERSON
City News Service
A 39-year-old man convicted of raping two women on separate occasions in a Santa Ana motel where he conducted bizarre "spiritual cleansing" rituals was sentenced today to 45 years to life in prison.
Jurors deliberated about 90 minutes April 22 before convicting Alberto Flores Ramirez of San Clemente of two counts each of forcible rape and forcible oral copulation and single counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object by force and attempted forcible oral copulation.
He could have been sentenced up to 81 years to life.
Jurors also found true a sentence-enhancing allegation of committing sex crimes against multiple victims.
One of his victims told Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Cassidy the "panic" she felt as she was attacked.
"Feeling (the defendant's) hands on my neck, choking me, I thought no one knows where I am," she said through a translator. "My children won't see me anymore and, worse, I thought I would go to jail if I defend myself."
The woman said she was a "victim of mockery and sarcasm when I told my story to paramedics, police and firemen."
Since the rape, "I live with fear and shame."
Cassidy told the woman she was "very brave to come forward."
Ramirez apologized for his crimes in a statement read by a translator in court.
"First of all, I would like to ask for forgiveness," Ramirez said. "There's nothing I can do to repair the harm... I have made a mistake that cost my freedom and family... I am sorry from the bottom of my heart."
Cassidy ordered Ramirez to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Ramirez met one of the victims on the Badoo social networking site, Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky said. The woman had come to the United States in 2011 on a travel visa and was living in Simi Valley, the prosecutor said.
The woman's two daughters, who were born in the United States, were living in Mexico and the father would not allow them to come to the United States, Bokosky said.
Ramirez told her that he had a "spiritual cleansing ritual" that would help her "get rid of bad vibes" and reunite her with her daughters, the prosecutor said.
"She was trying to find a way to have her daughters live with her here," Bokosky told jurors in her opening statement at trial."She's desperate to try anything to get her daughters back."
The two arranged to meet in Santa Ana on April 3, 2012, at a 99-cent store to pick up eggs and other items to be used in the ritual, the prosecutor said. They dined at a McDonald's and then drove to the Aloha Motel in Santa Ana, she said.
Ramirez rubbed eggs on the woman and used photos of the daughters in the ritual, but he told her it was not working and that she would have to strip down to her underwear, Bokosky said.
Ramirez then began fondling the woman, and when she began resisting, the two got into a physical struggle until he grabbed her by the neck and told her that "something really bad will happen" if she did not capitulate, Bokosky said.
Ramirez apologized after raping the woman, saying he was "overcome by her beauty," the prosecutor said. The defendant then gave the woman "gas money" and directions home, and she immediately called 911 when he was out of sight, Bokosky said.
Investigators linked Ramirez to the sexual assault with DNA evidence in the motel room, Bokosky said. Jurors also heard a "covert call" the accuser made to the defendant on behalf of investigators in which she confronts him about the rape and the defendant apologized, the prosecutor said.
Publicity about the case on an ABC News affiliate in Las Vegas prompted another woman to accuse Ramirez of raping her during a "cleansing ritual" at the same motel, Bokosky said. That woman told investigators the two met through Facebook, she said.
"She had bad luck with men," Bokosky said, "so Mr. Ramirez, being the healer that he is, offered to cleanse her free of charge."
Ramirez instructed the woman to meet with him in Santa Ana alone, but she brought along a friend, who was told to wait outside the Aloha Motel room in February 2012, the prosecutor said.
Ramirez told the woman to strip before he put eggs, water and ammonia on her "to the point she becomes dizzy and disoriented from the smell," Bokosky said.
"When she wakes up, the defendant is on top of her," sexually assaulting her, Bokosky said. Ramirez "apologized" to the woman before they parted, the prosecutor said.
"She leaves the motel room very confused," Bokosky said, adding the woman was too "ashamed and embarrassed" to tell her friend what happened.
Ramirez's attorney, Angela Kung of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, said much of the facts of the case were not in dispute, but she argued that there were "no witnesses" and "no physical evidence" to prove the rape claims.
Ramirez told police he "honored" the request of the woman he met through Badoo to abstain from sex, but that she agreed to masturbate him, Kung said.
Kung suggested the second woman got details of the first woman's claim from the TV news report.