Scales of justice

A Casper man faces charges alleging he molested a young girl multiple times over the course of a year.

Hugo Mendoza-Cora, 36, was charged with two counts of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor Monday during his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court.

A third party contacted police on Friday after the girl, who was born in 2005, told them that Mendoza-Cora had touched her in a sexual manner. Mendoza-Cora is related to the girl.

During an interview at the Children’s Advocacy Project, the girl told investigators that Mendoza-Cora touched her genitals and made her touch his, according to court documents. She said he would come into her room at night and that sometimes she wore pajamas with a zipper to make it more difficult for him to assault her.

The girl underwent an exam at Wyoming Medical Center, where nurses found evidence that the girl had been assaulted.

In an interview with police, Mendoza-Cora said he was unsure why there were allegations of sexual abuse and said he never hurt or touched the girl.

Police arrested Mendoza-Cora Saturday. He said in court Monday that he runs a painting company, H&M Mendoza Painting.

Assistant District Attorney Jared Holbrook asked that the bond be set at $100,000 in part because Mendoza-Cora is an undocumented immigrant. Mendoza-Cora responded and said that was a lot of money.

Natrona County Circuit Court Judge Steven Brown set Mendoza-Cora’s bond at $50,000.

Each charge of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor has a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Follow features editor Elise Schmelzer on Twitter @eliseschmelzer

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Elise Schmelzer joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 after graduating from the University of Missouri and interning at newspapers around the country. As features editor, she oversees arts and culture coverage and reports stories on a broad variety of topics.

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