A Menifee man who sexually assaulted a female friend and allegedly attacked another woman was sentenced today to eight years behind bars.
Anastasios Panagio Stefanidis, 26, pleaded guilty on Oct. 18 to burglary, sexual battery and assault with a deadly weapon resulting in great bodily injury.
Under the plea deal, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped eight felony charges, including kidnapping to commit rape and attempted lewd acts on a child, in exchange for Stefanidis’ acknowledgement of guilt on the other counts, which make him a three-strike felon.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Molloy certified the plea agreement today.
“This was a fair and reasonable plea bargain,” Deputy District Attorney Frank Donzanti told City News Service in October. “We wanted to make sure he was punished sufficiently given his conduct. We feel we did the victims justice, and he’s getting what he deserves.”
Donzanti emphasized the fact that if Stefanidis is ever convicted of another felony, he could automatically face 25 years to life in prison. The defendant must also register with law enforcement as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life, notifying police agencies of his whereabouts on a yearly basis.
Had Stefanidis been convicted by a jury of all the original charges, he could have faced a life prison sentence.
Donzanti told CNS the plea deal was the product of negotiations between the prosecution and defense over several months. The prosecutor added that several factors weighed on the decision not to forge ahead with a trial.
“There are always complications when a victim was in some kind of relationship with a defendant,” Donzanti said.
The charges to which Stefanidis plead related to only one woman, whose identity was not disclosed. One of the two rape charges that were dropped pertained to the second alleged victim, also not identified.
According to sheriff’s officials, on the night of Oct. 23, 2011, Stefanidis abducted a woman from her residence, drove her to an unknown location and raped her in his car.
The woman reported the attack to sheriff’s investigators a month later, a sheriff’s sergeant said.
During their investigation, detectives located another women who alleged she had been sexually assaulted by Stefanidis, culminating in charges being filed last January.