PITTSBURGH - An illegal immigrant who was accused in a 2009 Ross Township rape was accidentally deported to Mexico before going to trial.
The victim said she's outraged and lives in fear knowing that the man accused of brutally beating and raping her outside of a North Hills restaurant is free.
"You think you are going to get answers in a government that you've always believed in, that there's justice. But justice isn't for the victim," the woman said.
The woman said she was attacked after leaving a restaurant near her home in Ross Township after the Steelers won the Super Bowl in 2009. She said she had a quick drink at the bar and was walking home when she was approached by three men.
"I thought I had fallen on the ice. I'm down and I'm being kicked and pushed and pulled," the victim said. "I thought he was going to kill me and kept banging my head on the ground. I kept trying to scream."
Police said they later arrested and charged Prudencio Cortez in the crime. Cortez was charged with rape and aggravated assault.
Cortez's trial was delayed several times because he said he needed an interpreter and a Spanish-speaking attorney. Two years after the incident, the trial was set and that's when the victim said she learned about his accidental deportation.
"They told me it was an accident. He was accidentally, with 13 charges mind, accidentally sent back to Mexico by immigration officials," the woman said. "It's affected by whole life and how do I know he's not in this country?"
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala released a statement saying, "Our office certainly shares the disappointment and frustration felt by the victim at the sequence of events that led to this defendant's deportation."
Zappala said he's working with the Department of Justice to secure an international arrest warrant for Cortez and said he's confident he will be brought back to Allegheny County.
Federal agents said they weren’t made aware of the fact he was facing rape charges. A spokesperson told Target 11, “If another agency has an interest in a detained alien with a final removal order, that agency needs to notify the ICE that the individual shouldn’t be removed prior to criminal proceedings.”
In the meantime, the victim said she won't go anywhere alone and hopes that one day justice will be served.
"All I'm looking for is justice and I have to heal myself. But there is no justice and that's a pretty hard pill to swallow," said the victim. "The truth of the matter is he, as an illegal immigrant, had more rights than I did as a taxpaying citizen who has always worked."
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