Honduran national gets 50 years for kidnapping and raping 15-year-old
HOUSTON – A 33-year-old man who illegally resided in Houston has been ordered to federal prison for interstate travel with intent to engage in a sex act with a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Wilmer Rivera-Hernandez pleaded guilty Aug. 24.
U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. has now sentenced Rivera-Hernandez to 600 months in federal prison. At the hearing, the court heard additional information including a statement from the victim describing her transformation from a young, innocent girl into someone who feels anger, pain, guilt, numbness, depression and humiliation. In handing down the prison terms, the court noted how what Rivera-Hernandez did was reprehensible, and he could not be allowed to walk among civilized people. He was further ordered to serve the rest of his life on supervised release following completion of his prison term. During that time, he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. Rivera-Hernandez will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.
“Words cannot describe the damage Rivera-Hernandez did after he kidnapped and raped a 15-year-old child,” said Hamdani. “His loathsome and abhorrent actions deserve the stiffest punishment. As the father of a 15-year-old girl myself, I am thankful every day for local, state and federal law enforcement. And in this case for the coordinated efforts of the brave men and women of Montgomery County, Texas, and Knox County, Tennessee, who were able to save a child from a monster’s grasp.”
In June 2020, Rivera-Hernandez took a 15-year-old girl on what was supposed to be a date, but it quickly turned into a nightmare. After she realized he was just driving around, she asked him to take her home. He refused. Instead, he grabbed this young girl by the head, strangled her, threatened both her and her family’s safety, seized her phone and then forced her to drink alcohol and take medicine to make her drowsy and unable to resist him. He then drove her from Houston to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he took her to a motel and raped her. The next day, he began driving her through Arkansas and into Tennessee.
However, the victim was able to get access to a phone and contact her family members, telling them he could kill her and to call the police. They contacted law enforcement who, using geolocation on the phone, was eventually able to locate Rivera-Hernandez and the victim parked at a truck stop in Knoxville, Tennessee.
After his indictment and arrest, Rivera-Hernandez also engaged in a scheme to obstruct justice from prison. He arranged the creation and delivery of fabricated WhatsApp messages purporting to be from the minor victim. In these manufactured messages, Rivera-Hernandez made it appear as if the minor had recanted her claims of kidnapping and rape and that she was always in love with him. By having these messages delivered to the prosecution, Rivera-Hernandez hoped it would lead to the dismissal of his charges. A thorough investigation, however, quickly revealed the messages were fake and that Rivera-Hernandez attempted to obstruct justice.
He will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the future.
Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service conducted the investigation with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations. Sheriff’s Offices in Montgomery County, Texas, and Knox County, Tennessee, assisted with the victim’s rescue. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharad Khandelwal and Stephanie Bauman prosecuted the case.