A former La Jolla restaurant owner convicted of sexually assaulting intoxicated or unconscious women over a nine-year period was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in state prison.
Daniel Dorado, 62, who owned Voce del Mare in the Bird Rock area, was convicted last December of 20 felony counts, including rape of an unconscious person and rape of an intoxicated person, involving sexual assaults on four women that occurred between 2009 and 2018.
Dorado was also charged with sexually assaulting four other women, but jurors either acquitted him or were unable to reach verdicts on those counts.
Prosecutors say Dorado met the victims through dating websites or at local bars and restaurants, sometimes under the guise of a job interview for a position at his restaurant. The women were either given spiked beverages or drank too much alcohol to consent, and were sexually assaulted while unconscious, or woke up in the midst of being assaulted, according to the prosecution.
Dorado was taken into custody in March 2018 on suspicion of assaults on four women, and the others came forward after learning of his arrest.
He maintained his innocence in a statement to the court at his sentencing hearing.
"I have never drugged anybody...I have never, ever done anything that was not consensual," Dorado said, echoing defense arguments made during the trial that date rape drugs were not detected in the victims' medical screenings and that their symptoms were more indicative of excessive alcohol consumption.
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto countered that Dorado "preyed upon (the victims) and took advantage of them" and described his actions as a display of "serious and chronic victimization of women over an extended period of time."
Prior to imposing the 40-year sentence, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Charles G. Rogers said Dorado "tailored his approach and interactions with (the victims) in a way that played to and preyed upon their vulnerabilities" and exhibited a "complete absence of acceptance or responsibility" throughout the case.
Three of the victims Dorado was convicted of assaulting spoke at the hearing about the ongoing trauma they felt, lingering feelings of unease over their safety, and belief that he would re-offend if ever released.
However, one of the women Dorado was convicted of raping fervently denied that he assaulted her and alleged that police told her she may have been drugged and assaulted by the defendant, leading her to question "what I knew to be the truth."
Though she conceded drinking too much alcohol on the occasion charged in the case, she said she had consensual sex with Dorado.