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Santa Rosa man pleads guilty to SRJC rape

A Santa Rosa man who had keys to various Santa Rosa Junior College buildings and furnished a locked broom closet with personal items pleaded no contest to raping a fellow dance class student at a campus swim center.

Marco Deanda-Vargas, 30, made the plea bargain with prosecutors Friday as both sides were preparing for his upcoming trial.

He faces up to six years in prison at his March sentencing instead of a maximum of 24 years if he had been convicted on all counts.

In addition to forcible rape, Deanda-Vargas had been charged with sodomy, digital penetration and possession of burglary tools.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss all but the rape count and a misdemeanor possession of stolen property in exchange for his plea.

The case raised awareness of the issue of acquaintance rape and helped focus attention on campus sexual assaults.

The 23-year-old victim testified at a preliminary hearing that she had become friends with Deanda-Vargas through a nighttime dance class they were both taking.

Because he had so many school keys, she thought he was a teaching assistant, she testified.

Campus police officers testified he was not a school employee. He later told them he found the keys, an officer testified.

On March 15, the woman testified, she had coffee with Deanda-Vargas after class.

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