Mendez trial continues with victim of child sexual abuse testifying
Story and photos by Lori C Adler, reporter
Tearful Jodi (Lesert) Rollof took the stand Friday during the Robin Mendez murder trial. In October 1982, after Barbara Mendez’s murder, Robin Mendez was convicted of child sexual abuse of Rolloff (14 years old at the time) after having a sexual relationship with her for over a year. It is this relationship, the state believes, that was the prime motive for Mendez to murder his wife.
Rolloff related how she came to be in a relationship with Robin Mendez. She explained that her family knew the Mendez family from their church, Assembly of God in Woodruff, Wisc. Rolloff further explained that she and Dawn Mendez were became best friends. In addition, Robin Mendez was a youth leader at their church and took the youth group on outings and trips, such as camping. Rolloff said she became sexually active with Robin Mendez in 1981, when she was 14, and that this relationship continued even after Barbara Mendez’s murder. “I thought he loved me and thought he was going to marry me, “Rolloff told the court. When asked by the district attorney why she thought that, Rolloff simply stated, “That’s what he told me.”
Schiek then asked Rolloff about the day of Barbara Mendez’s murder and went through the timeline of events as she remembered them. Rolloff discussed phone calls she had with Robin Mendez and how she was at church that evening when she heard about Barbara’s death. Many church members, including Rolloff and her family, went to the Mendez home after learning of the murder. Rolloff said she had finally had a chance to be alone with Robin for a moment to ask if he was ok. She said he told her, “I’m footloose and fancy free.”
Still thinking that Robin was in love with her, Rolloff further explained, she continued to see him. They had sex, she noted, in the Mendez home the day after Barbara’s murder, and the relationship continued up to the time when Robin Mendez was arrested for child sexual abuse in October 1982. The defense countered with questions regarding inconsistencies between now and what Rolloff told the police during the initial investigations. Rolloff replied that initially she wanted to protect Mendez, but after she reflected on all that happened, she decided she just wanted to be truthful about everything.
The Mendez trial will continue next week. The district attorney is expected to finish the state’s case, and the defense will begin with their witnesses toward the latter part of the week.