By: Blair Miller
DENVER (KMGH) — Prosecutors have charged a Denver man who is suspected of kidnapping and sexually assaulting, or attempting to sexually assault, at least 10 women over the past four years with 41 felonies.
John Pastor-Mendoza, 41, is charged with 10 counts of kidnapping a victim to commit a sexual offense (class 2 felony); eight counts of sexual assault (class 3 felony); four counts of sexual assault (class 4 felony); six counts of attempted sexual assault (class 4 felony); 12 counts of attempted sexual assault (class 5 felony); and one count of robbery (class 4 felony), according to the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
According to prosecutors and an arrest affidavit, Pastor-Mendoza responded as a ride-share driver to pick up the women he is accused of assaulting. Most of them were intoxicated, according to the affidavit, and Pastor-Mendoza would allegedly commit the attacks either inside his vehicle or at his apartment on Leetsdale Drive.
It is not clear from the affidavit whether Pastor-Mendoza was officially taking the rides as a working driver or just posing as a driver. A spokesperson for Uber said Pastor-Mendoza was “never” a driver for the company.
Many of the women were picked up from bars in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood before they were attacked, but the last three assaults all happened after women left Tracks Denver at 3500 Walnut Street.
The assaults and the bars the victims were at were, according to prosecutors:
Sept. 16, 2018 — The Matchbox, 2625 Larimer Street
Dec. 29-30, 2018 — Beta Nightclub, 1909 Blake Street
March 9, 2019 — LoDo area
March 17, 2019 — LoDo’s Bar and Grill, 1946 Market Street
Aug. 15, 2021 — The Irish Rover Pub, 54 South Broadway
Sept. 23, 2021 — Speer Blvd. and 13th Street
March 4, 2022 — Tracks Denver, 3500 Walnut Street
May 13-14, 2022 — Tracks Denver, 3500 Walnut Street
July 8-9, 2022 — Tracks Denver, 3500 Walnut Street
Of the victims whose accounts were detailed in the affidavit, all of them had been drinking and blacked out during the assaults, but most of them had their phones, underwear, and other personal items stolen from them by their assailant. Several of them came to during the assaults and were able to give police and medical workers descriptions of their assailant: a short, heavy-set Hispanic man.
The victims whose accounts were detailed in the affidavit received Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) examinations after they were attacked.
As the DNA found on the women was put into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), they matched to the same suspect, according to the affidavit.
The document says on Aug. 12, a sergeant with the Denver Police Department Sex Crimes Unit noted similarities in some of the cases and assigned a detective to investigate following the July 9 sexual assault at Tracks Denver.
The detective contacted the nightclub and gave them the description of the suspect. An employee there said they knew of a man who was regularly there who matched the description, and who they knew as a ride-share driver.
A week later, an employee sent photos to the detective taken the night of Aug. 18 showing Pastor-Mendoza inside the club, his driver’s license, and a picture of his vehicle — a white 2021 Hyundai Tucson.
The detective met with one of the victims later that day and presented a photo lineup. The victim identified Pastor-Mendoza as their assailant.
That same day, the detective presented the case to the Denver District Attorney’s office, which accepted it. Officers arrested Pastor-Mendoza that night.
He originally gave officers two addresses – one in Adams County and the one on Leetsdale Drive. A person who lived at the Adams County address said Pastor-Mendoza had not lived there for more than five years.
They executed a search warrant at the Leetsdale Drive address on Aug. 21, and inside found a cardboard box containing 18 cell phones, as well as the bank card of at least one of the victims.
Two of the cell phones belonged to victims named in the affidavit, which linked them with the other victims as well through the DNA matches, the officer who wrote the affidavit said.
Police believe Pastor-Mendoza may have more victims and are asking people who think they might have been one to call 720-913-2000.
This story was originally published Oct. 19 by KMGH in Denver, an E.W. Scripps Company.