Horrific Alleged Rape of Maryland Student Raises Questions About Immigration and School Safety


On March 16, a 14-year-old female student was allegedly raped by two male students in a bathroom at a Maryland high school.

Henry Sanchez, 18, of the Aspen Hill neighborhood of Rockville, Maryland, and Jose Montano, 17, have been charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense in the violent assault of the female student. Both are being charged as adults.

The female student told police she was walking in a school hallway around 9 am when Sanchez and Montano approached her. Montano asked her to have sex, and when she refused, he forced her into a boys’ bathroom and then into a stall, according to police.

According to court documents, the female student told police that Montano and Sanchez raped her multiple times. She told police that she cried out in pain and repeatedly told the two suspects to stop.

Yesterday, during a bond review hearing for Montano, Montgomery County prosecutors said that they have text messages between Montano and Sanchez. They say the suspects planned for Montano to convince the girl to have sex with him in a school bathroom. The plan was then for Sanchez to interrupt and to threaten to tell a teacher if Montano and the girl didn’t let him participate, reports WTOP.

Defense attorneys for Montano claim that they have evidence in the form of text messages that shows the encounter between Montano and the girl was consensual and that the two teens arranged to meet in the bathroom. They claim the messages show the girl planned to skip gym class to have sex with Montano.

But even if prior text communication between the girl and one of the suspects did occur, the criminal case will depend upon whether the girl agreed to have sex at the time of the incident – in that bathroom stall with both suspects – or if she was attacked.

Investigators say the case for rape is strong, reports The Washington Post:

Capt. James Humphries, commander of the Montgomery Police Department’s Special Victims Investigation unit, which is handling the case, said he stands by the investigation’s findings.

“The events were horrible. They were not consensual,” he said.

Police Chief Tom Manger has described the attack as “brutal” and said he is confident that police have a strong case.

Montano’s lawyers asked for a court hearing to try and prove the sex was consensual. They claim to have a video in which the 14-year-old accuser is masturbating and asking Montano, “do you like it?” They also say they have text messages that showed the two planned to meet up for sex and the girl asked him not to bring a condom because she “was having her period,” reports Fox News.

The judge at that hearing denied bond:

“I’m not persuaded. That’s not an argument that can be sustained,” Maryland District Court Judge James B. Sarsfield said during a court hearing Thursday. “The request is denied without prejudice.”

Andrew Jezic, the attorney representing Sanchez, said that under certain conditions, a 14-year-old can give consent to sex:

“The law says that somebody who is 14 cannot give consent to sexual relations with someone who is four years to the day or older,” he said. “Mr. Sanchez is three years and eight months older than this young lady.”

Both suspects reportedly entered the country illegally in 2016 by crossing the border in Texas. Montano is originally from El Salvador and Sanchez is from Guatemala, but few details have been released about Montano’s immigration status because he is a minor. Sanchez was released by Border Patrol to the custody of his father after he was stopped in August. He has not been given a date for an immigration hearing, said Dave Hollenberg, another attorney representing the 18-year-old, according to WTOP.

Sanchez’s father, Adolfo Sanchez-Reyes, 43, of Guatemala, was arrested last Friday after ICE reviewed his immigration history and found him to be unlawfully in the US.

Prosecutors also say they have photos of Sanchez and Montano flashing MS-13 gang signs.

MS-13 is described the by FBI as one of the most violent gangs in the world, “perpetuating violence—from assaults to homicides, using firearms, machetes, or blunt objects—to intimidate rival gangs, law enforcement, and the general public. They often target middle and high school students for recruitment. And they form tenuous alliances…and sometimes vicious rivalries…with other criminal groups, depending on their needs at the time.”

County police are investigating whether the boys have any ties to the gang, which has a notable presence in Montgomery County.

WTOP reports:

The Central American street gang has been tied to a series of homicides in Montgomery County in the past year including the killing of a Gaithersburg girl whose body was found in a Fairfax County industrial park. Another teen was stabbed 40 times by suspected gang members in a Gaithersburg park.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Rockville is currently not a sanctuary city, but just two weeks before the alleged rape, City councilwoman Julie Palakovich Carr proposed sanctuary status. VOA News elaborates:

Still facing a vote on the sanctuary ordinance, Rockville’s mayor and council members were not available for comment, but a statement from the city’s communication department says the Rockville City Police Department currently follows all federal mandates and notifies U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of arrests, as required.

In doing so, the city is following Montgomery County guidelines. Montgomery County is not a sanctuary jurisdiction.

This case is raising questions about sanctuary states in general, and the impacts that immigration is having on the public school system. In recent years, according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), mass immigration (both legal and illegal) has resulted in a significant increase in the number and share of public school students coming from such households. That number is currently nearly one out of four. This has raised concerns about assimilation, the absorption capacity of US schools, and rising costs for state and local governments, reports Fox Business:

Programs for students not born in the U.S., or whose native language is not English, in some cases are growing faster than school districts’ ability to run and fund them effectively. On average, states and municipalities in the U.S. spend $59.2 billion to educate Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (F.A.I.R.).

Montgomery County, which champions sanctuary policies and openly welcomes illegal aliens, has around 15 percent of all students attending the ESOL program, which has grown 42 percent since 2010. Over the same period, ESOL costs in Montgomery County increased 53% to $462 million, indicating spending is rising faster than enrollment, according to F.A.I.R.

Bob Dane, executive director of F.A.I.R., says many U.S. public schools today face a dilemma: While they have the legal obligation to provide any minor that enrolls (including undocumented immigrants) with a public education, they also have a moral obligation to keep students safe. He told Fox Business he believes that schools within sanctuary cities will continue to have issues with safety, but some immigration experts argue that sanctuary cities are in fact safer – making schools within those cities safer.

But are immigrants more likely to commit violent crime? It depends on who you ask, but experts say good data on immigrant criminality – specifically undocumented immigrant criminality – is scarce. One analysis showed that undocumented immigrants – specifically less-educated men from El Salvador and Guatemala between the ages of 18-29 – had an incarceration rate of 1.7 percent, compared with 10.7 percent for native-born men without a high school diploma.

Although some crimes that immigrants have committed have been widely publicized as of late, some experts say that while those cases are disturbing, they are not representative of the millions of immigrants who live in the US:

“To ascribe group guilt to crimes just doesn’t work,” says AIC’s Walter Ewing. “If every time a native-born white man shot up a mall we tried to round up all native-born white men, it wouldn’t make any sense.”

A new brief published by the Cato Institute found that, contrary to public perception, illegal immigrants are much less crime-prone than native born Americans:

Our headline finding is that both illegal immigrants and legal immigrants have incarceration rates far below those of native-born Americans—at 0.85 percent, 0.47 percent, and 1.53 percent, respectively. Excluding illegal immigrants who are incarcerated or in detention for immigration offenses lowers their incarceration rate to 0.5 percent of their population—within a smidge of legal immigrants. As a result, native-born Americans are overrepresented in the incarcerated population while illegal and legal immigrants are underrepresented, relative to their respective shares of the population.

If one believes that the actual number of “undocumented” immigrants in the US is higher than usual number used by the government and most demographers (11 to 12 million), then the incarceration rate is even LOWER than what Cato reports.

Alex Nowrastah, co-author of the Cato study, points out:

Many might read this and think that illegal immigrants are all criminals by definition, so we’re really undercounting criminals, but that isn’t true. Only some illegal immigrants actually committed the crime of entering the country without permission or illegally re-entering after being deported. New estimates by Robert Warren and Donald Kerwin at the Center for Migration Studies found that 64 percent of illegal immigrants who entered in 2013 did so by overstaying a visa, not by crossing a border illegally. These people are not criminals under current law, although they can be deported.

Dr. Jack Smith, Superintendent of Montgomery County schools, reportedly said that the alleged rape was “a horrible thing for the young woman to have experienced.” He added that the school system would offer her “a great deal of support” and that officials were “very interested in reviewing all the things we do now to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again.” Smith also said there are five security guards and a school resource officer at Rockville High School.

Smith added that the fact that the suspects’ immigration status has no bearing on how the school system will treat him, and that the incident wouldn’t change the school system’s policy on such students going forward.

He also said that while most of the communications to himself and the school board regarding the rape were from “concerned parents,” he’d also received some “racist, hate-filled” messages.

Of course, illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes should be deported after serving their sentences here. They should absolutely be held accountable and punished.

“We’re going to look at everything” in the school’s safety plan and “make sure we’ve covered any gaps,” Smith said.

That is a good idea, because about a week before the alleged rape occurred, a 17-year-old female student was brutally beaten at Rockville High, reports WTOP:

Rene Sandler, the lawyer for the family of a Rockville High student, said her client, a 17-year-old girl, was “jumped” and beaten in the main lobby of the high school the morning of March 7, and that parents, other than the parents of the victim, were not informed.

She said the attack, which lasted roughly 30 seconds, was finally broken up by a staff member who raced down a hallway, past students who gathered to watch — and to record the incident on their cellphones. “There are no security officers around,” Sandler said.

Warning: disturbing content

The status of the 15-year-old who is seen hitting the 17-year-old victim in this video has not been revealed, so it is probably safe to assume she is a legal citizen.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the school victimization rate in the US dropped significantly – 86 percent – between 1992 and 2014. In 1992, about 70 out of ever 1,000 students were victims of violent crime, including sexual assaults. By 2014, it was only about 19 out of every 1,000 students.

The public school system in the US does have considerable issues, no doubt – but the rape that occurred at Rockville High School is far outside of the norm, thankfully.

It is important to remember that individuals are responsible for their own actions – regardless of citizenship status.

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