BEAUFORT, S.C. (Oct. 16, 2023) – A Hardeeville man has been sent to prison for the attempted rape of a female jogger along a public sidewalk in Bluffton.
Johnathan Mendoza-Mayoral, 20, pleaded guilty Monday morning in General Sessions Court to first-degree assault and battery with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct. His jury trial was to begin later in the day.
Mendoza-Mayoral was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He also will be placed on the sex-offender registry.
“This defendant is a violent offender who planned his attack,” said Sara Malone of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “Fortunately, this victim was able to fight him off before he carried out his plan, and he is headed to prison in no small part because of her actions.”
At about 10:15 p.m. on Oct. 20, 2020, the victim was jogging near Mill Creek in Cypress Ridge, a Bluffton neighborhood, when she noticed a man approaching her from behind. He grabbed her by the neck and groped her chest, reaching beneath her sports bra. He then began dragging her off the sidewalk toward nearby bushes, choking her until she nearly lost consciousness.
However, the victim grabbed her attacker by the genitals, and he ran away toward the Cypress Ridge pool.
Responding law enforcement officers from the Bluffton Police Department noted fresh scratch marks on the victim’s neck and dirt beneath her fingernails. They also saw freshly disturbed pine straw at the attack site. DNA was collected from the victim’s neck and inside her bra.
The DNA was matched to Mendoza-Mayoral in February 2023. After his arrest, he admitted to investigators that he grabbed a woman that he wanted to “hook up with” but that she fought back. He also indicated during the interview that he had returned to the area and seen the woman jogging again in the same area.
Mendoza-Mayoral has been held without bond since his arrest and also was placed on an immigration detainer. He likely faces deportation after serving his prison sentence.
Judge Carmen T. Mullen handed down the sentence.
Malone is a member of the Beaufort County prosecution team. She has worked for the Solicitor’s Office since 2022.