Charges against two immigrants who were accused of raping a 14-year-old female student in a bathroom at a Maryland high school in March have been dropped.
Henry Sanchez Milian, 18, of the Aspen Hill neighborhood of Rockville, Maryland, and Jose Montano, 17, were both charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense in the violent assault of the female student. Both were charged as adults.
The female student told police she was walking in a hallway at Rockville High School around 9 am when Sanchez Milian and Montano approached her. Montano asked her to have sex, and when she refused, she claimed he forced her into a boys’ bathroom and then into a stall.
According to court documents, the female student told police that Montano and Sanchez Milian raped her multiple times. She told police that she cried out in pain and repeatedly told the two suspects to stop.
Turns out, evidence doesn’t support the girl’s story.
Today, Maryland prosecutors announced they will drop the rape and sex offense charges against Sanchez Milian and Montano, The Washington Post reports:
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said at a press conference that “the original charges cannot be sustained and prosecution is untenable” because of “substantial inconsistencies” from witnesses.
McCarthy, who was joined by the county’s top leaders, said the decision to dismiss the charges followed an extensive investigation that included additional interviews and a review of medical records, school security videos, and phone and computer records.
Prosecutors are still pursuing separate child pornography charges against both men, however, related to images of the 14-year-old girl that were discovered during the investigation.
Maria Mena, Montano’s attorney, said her client shared with Sanchez Milian nude photos and explicit video that the girl had sent him.
Sanchez Milian’s attorney Andrew Jezic said he was grateful when he was told the county planned to drop the rape case, but he called the child pornography charges “selective prosecution of elective promiscuity,” adding that “it is hardly uncommon behavior for teenagers.”
Attorneys for Montano disparaged the State’s Attorney’s Office for pursuing child pornography charges against Montano, calling it “egregious” and questioning a “double standard” of charging Montano with possessing or distributing explicit images and video and not also charging the girl who sent them, reports Bethesda Magazine.
Mena said text messages between the girl and Montano, as well as footage from school security cameras, was critical in dismissing the charges. The footage shows that the encounter was consensual, she said:
“If you look at the school footage you will be able to see her running across the hallway to meet up with our client. She goes downstairs; she walks to the bathroom; they’re making out. She was not pushed into this bathroom; she walked into this bathroom. And that’s why I say the state did the correct thing.”
Jezic said he knows many people will question that group sex in a high school bathroom could be consensual.
“It does seem improbable, if you are a person who is not connected to contemporary high school culture,” he said.
Montano came to the US from El Salvador, and Sanchez Milian from Guatemala. Both were stopped at the border, detained, then allowed to continue on to stay with relatives before they enrolled in Rockville High School at a ninth grade level.
Updated to add age of consent information:
Like most states, there are some situations in Maryland where people under the age of consent may legally have sex, as long as there is only a small age difference between them. In Maryland, persons aged between 14 and 16 may consent to sex as long as the other partner is not more than 4 years older. (source)
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