Rite of Passage assault case sent to district court
March 30, 2007
Despite the alleged victim’s testimony Friday that he has lied in the past, a 19-year-old former resident of a Rite of Passage house in Minden was bound over to District Court on a sexual assault charge.
East Fork Justice Jim EnEarl listened to 90 minutes of testimony from the 16-year-old boy who said he shared a room with Aurelio Cardenas at the residence for juvenile offenders on East Valley Road in the Johnson Lane area.
He said the assault took place in September, but he couldn’t recall the exact day.
He said Cardenas had a senior role among the juvenile offenders and had ordered him to clean a travel trailer five days in a row.
He said the assault occurred in the trailer on the fifth day.
“I resisted by moving around a lot,” the younger teen said. “I didn’t want to swing my arms because I would get pretty badly injured.”
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The boy said the attack took about 15 minutes and he didn’t tell anyone because Cardenas reportedly threatened to hurt him.
Cardenas was arrested in February at a juvenile detention facility in Santa Clara County, Calif., and is in Douglas County Jail on $250,000 cash bail.
The felony carries up to life in prison if convicted.
“When he (Cardenas) was done, I cleaned the trailer like nothing happened,” the victim said. “I felt like I wasn’t worth anything.”
He said he was upset and cried about the attack and later told another boy what happened. He said he believed the second boy reported the incident to officials.
Two weeks later, Cardenas was arrested.
Under questioning by Cardenas’ attorney, Derrick Lopez, the teen said he lied to a sheriff’s investigator because he didn’t trust police.
He also admitted that he lied about sexual assaults in the past to get sympathy from other residents of the house.
“I was lying at the time to get sympathy and their trust, to make sure somebody would listen to me,” he said.
He said he had been sexually assaulted by both his parents who are in prison.
Under questioning by prosecutor Kris Brown, the boy said he was telling the truth about the alleged assault by Cardenas.
The youth was the only witness in the preliminary hearing before EnEarl to determine if there was enough evidence to believe the crime had been committed and Cardenas was the suspect.
Lopez questioned the credibility of the witness.
“He admits using a (previous) rape story to gain trust and sympathy,” Lopez said. “The court had a chance to watch his demeanor. He lied to officers and about numerous details.”
Brown said the young man admitted lying, but said his misstatements weren’t “huge lies, they were confusion.”
She said he gave a detailed account of his version of what happened, was willing to put himself through the ordeal of testifying and understood the seriousness of the charges.
“This is not an easy decision to make,” EnEarl said. “Ms. Brown, you’ve got issues.”
He said the state presented enough “slight to marginal evidence” that the crime was committed.
“If what I heard was raised at trial, you would not have prevailed,” EnEarl told Brown.
Lopez asked for an arraignment in District Court on April 16 to allow time for further discussion with the District Attorney’s Office about the charge.