ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — A rape at Rockville High School ignited a nationwide firestorm over immigration, and now a 17- year-old student from El Savador remains behind bars, after the judge delayed the case on Friday so that prosecutors could view new evidence.
The case is being delayed because of new information, regarding texts between the victim and the youngest suspect in the case. The attorney for that young suspect is now saying that the White House is to blame for a culture of hate that’s built around this case.
On Thursday, a judge rejected a defense request to release Montano on bail. His lawyers say the sex was consensual, and said they have text messages showing the girl agreed to have sex. Sanchez’s lawyer also says the sex was consensual.
“Her issue as being credible is really at stake right now.”
Lawyers for the two Rockville High School students are fighting charges they raped a classmate, and attacked the Trump Administration for politicizing the case, alleging it fits the the administration’s narrative on immigration.
“The White House jumped on it in order to propel its theme of how undocumented immigrants are rapists and murders. This thing is something that Trump has said since the beginning of his campaign, and it’s disgusting and it’s appalling,” says Jose Montano’s lawyer, David Wooten.
Henry Sanchez-Milian, who’s 18-years-old, and 17-year-old Jose Montano both came to the U.S. illegally from Central America, drawing White House attention last week.
“It’s horrendous and horrible and disgusting what this young woman in Rockville went through,” says White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
“If this goes to trial, the immigration status of the defendant isn’t even a piece of evidence. The jury wouldn’t hear whether you’re a permanent resident or have no papers because it’s not relevant,” says Wooten.
Montano’s lawyer said he was orphaned as a child in El Salvador, adopted by an elderly woman, and when she died last year, he came here to Maryland to live with her biological son.
“The Montanos are American citizens, and they’ve been members of this community for years.”
Prosecutors say the teens raped a 14-year-old classmate in a Rockville High bathroom. Defense attorneys question her credibility after they say texts reveal she planned to have sex with Montano.
“Consent is not ongoing, and whether or not it’s true that explicit pictures were sent, those do not themselves convey in any way that this young woman was or was not raped, as she’s claimed,” says sexual assault victims advocate Bridgett Stumpf.
Montano was the only defendant to appear in court on Friday. He was seen wearing a white jumpsuit. He was handcuffed and his lawyers are trying to get him moved to a secure juvenile facility that’s closer to Rockville.