ROCKVILLE – Attorneys for one of the students charged with the rape of a 14-year old girl at Rockville High School say new evidence shows their client is innocent.
At last week’s bond hearing for Jose O. Montano, 17, attorneys representing Montano said text messages between Montano and the 14-year-old girl show that the sex between them was consensual and not rape.
Montano, along with Henry E. Sanchez, 18, also a student at Rockville High School, was arrested and charged with one count of rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense for allegedly raping a fellow student in a bathroom at the school.
According to the statement of probable cause, the victim told police she was forced into the bathroom against her will, pushed into a stall, stripped and raped by Montano and Sanchez.
“This was clearly a conspiracy to rape her and commit other sexual assaults,” said Debbie Feinstein, one the prosecutors.
Montano’s attorneys appeared in court again, asking a Montgomery County District Court judge to let their client out on bond after he was originally denied. They said newly found text messages between Montano and the 14-year-old girl show the two had a prior sexual relationship and that the two planned on consensual sex at school the day of the alleged rape.
Montgomery County District Court Judge James B. Sarsfield denied Montano bond again, saying even if the defense’s claims that Montano and the 14-year-old girl planned on having sex the day before were true, the message did not show she planned on sex with Sanchez.
The defense said in court last week that the text message discredited the accuser, as she did not tell detectives about any prior sexual relationship with Montano. The statement of probable cause says that Montano and the girl were friends, but the girl did not know Sanchez prior to the alleged rape.
“Our contention is that this girl has lied,” said Maria Mena, an attorney representing Montano.
Sarsfield denied Montano bond, but granted the defense’s request that he be moved from the juvenile dentation center in Salisbury to one closer. While Montano is being detained in a juvenile facility, he is being charged as an adult.
After he was denied bond last Thursday, Montano appeared in District Court Friday for his preliminary hearing, where District Court Judge Eugene Wolfe granted the prosecution a continuance, which means Montano will have to appear in court again this Friday for another preliminary hearing.
The alleged rape at Rockville High School in March drew national media attention after one of the students charged, Sanchez, was found to have entered the U.S. illegally. After Sanchez was charged, Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer for him for violating U.S. immigration law.
According to David Wooten, an attorney for Montano, ICE has not issued a detainer for him, nor could he confirm whether or not Montano is a legal resident of the U.S. Matthew D. Bourke, a spokesperson for ICE, would not confirm or deny if ICE had placed a detainer for Montano, because he was a minor.
According to Wooten, Montano came to the U.S. from El Salvador after his adoptive grandmother died. Montano then moved to the U.S. to live with his adoptive grandmother’s family, who are U.S. citizens living in Maryland. He will appear in court again Friday.