23 years for man who led 11-year-old to Mexico

By ERIC A. HOWALD Of the Keizertimes A former Keizer resident pleaded on his knees for forgiveness in front of a Marion County Circuit Court judge before being sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison on three counts of rape. The charges stemmed from a 2007 incident involving Raul Xalamihua-Espindola’s taking of a then 11-year-old Keizer girl and then fleeing across the country before heading to Mexico. Judge David Leith imposed the sentence Monday, June 6. Xalamihua-Espindola, 29, pleaded guilty to the charges in May. During sentencing, Xalamihua-Espindola’s claims that relationships between older men and young girls in his native culture were commonplace were met with disbelief by Leith. “Are you saying that, in your culture, taking an 11-year-old child from her home without parents permission to have sex with her is acceptable?” said Leith. “That happens at home and everywhere in our community in Zongolica. Yes, all of that is acceptable,” said Xalamihua-Espindola, who spoke with the assistance of two interpreters, one for English-to-Spanish and one for Spanish to his native dialect. “To take a child and have sex with her without her parents permission (is okay?)” countered Leith. “It is the custom, always. The norm. It’s just custom,” Xalamihua-Espindola said. At the end of his statement to the court, Xalamihua-Espindola got down on his knees to beg forgiveness and the imposition of a lenient sentence. He claimed his...

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