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Man killed in Gary-New Duluth shooting

Mexico Lindo manager sentenced for sexual assault

Esteban Magana Mata

The one-time manager of Mexico Lindo was sentenced this week to six months in custody for sexually assaulting a customer at the popular Duluth restaurant last summer.

Esteban Magana Mata, 35, of Hermantown, began serving his sentence Tuesday at the Northeast Regional Corrections Center after pleading guilty in September to a felony charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Court documents indicate that Mata sexually assaulted an intoxicated customer inside a private employee bathroom inside the Fitger's Complex establishment in June 2016. Mata was identified in a criminal complaint as the restaurant's manager at the time.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Jill Eichenwald sentenced Mata to a guideline two-year prison term, which was stayed for five years of supervised probation and incarceration at NERCC. After serving his term, Mata also will be subject to 10 years of conditional release and must register as a predatory offender.

Mata's defense attorney, Andrew Poole, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A manager at Mexico Lindo declined to comment on the case or Mata's employment status, referring to it as a "legal matter" and directing questions to Poole.

According to court documents:

Officers were called to the restaurant, 600 E. Superior St., shortly before 2 a.m. on June 30, 2016. They met with the victim, who reported that she had been sexually assaulted by the manager, who was identified as Mata.

The victim stated that Mata took her into an employee bathroom located in the kitchen area and began kissing her. She said she told Mata, "No," and, "I don't want to do this right now," but he proceeded to forcibly pin her up against a wall and sexually assault her.

The victim said she knew Mata from being a frequent customer at the restaurant but said they were never involved in a sexual relationship.

Officers spoke with Mata, who initially denied ever going to the back kitchen area with a customer. However, through a search warrant, investigators obtained surveillance video that showed the defendant in the back area of the kitchen with the victim.

Mata later showed up at the Public Safety Building and said he wanted to turn himself in. He stated at that time that he had engaged in mutual kissing with the woman, saying he had previously lied about being with the victim because he did not want his wife to find out.

When pressed for more details, investigators said Mata acknowledged that he "may have" engaged in some penetration. He stated that the victim then said something to the effect of, "No, I don't want to do this here," and left the bathroom.