By Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A Dream Hotel employee convicted of sneaking into the room of a guest and raping her while she slept was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Tuesday.
Former hotel worker Jaime Lopez Mendoza deliberately followed an intoxicated 28-year-old woman, visiting from Rhode Island, into the room she shared with her boyfriend at the West 55th Street inn on Dec. 27, 2009.
While they were both passed out intoxicated, Mendoza raped the victim, who was an art school graduate student at the time.
She saw a "dark silhouette" above her when she opened her eyes — a moment she said has traumatized her for life.
"Every day I re-live multiple flashbacks from an inexcusable and life changing event," the woman wrote in a letter read by the prosecutor at Mendoza's sentencing.
The woman described how she has suffered since the incident. She moved because she was scared to live alone, suffered from depression and has become socially reclusive, she said.
The worst thing, she said, was her relationship with her boyfriend "began to crumble."
"Even when I look into my boyfriend's eyes and say 'I love you,' I still remember," the woman wrote. "I would never wish this upon anyone."
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Jill Konviser called the sex assault "the ultimate example of depravity" and "a master class in cowardice."
"[Mendoza] crawled, in the middle of the night, into the bed of a helpless young woman to violate her, to satisfy him," the judge said.
Konviser gave Mendoza the prison sentence prosecutors recommended but he had faced up to 25 years behind bars. He was convicted at trial last month.
He will likely be deported upon his release to his native Guatemala because of the conviction.
His wife and other family members wept in the gallery as the judge ordered Mendoza to prison.
When offered the chance to speak he denied the charges still. He first claimed to police he was not involved and then said the sex was consensual, prosecutors said.
"I wil continue to fight for my freedom here because I am not a rapist," Mendoza said.