Rape

The Rockville Rape Case Is a Cautionary Tale for Anti-Immigrant Zealots and Victims' Advocates

Maryland no longer prosecuting Henry Sanchez Milian and Jose Montano for sexual assault.

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Rockville
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The state of Maryland is no longer pursuing sexual assault charges against two teenagers who were accused of dragging a 14-year-old girl into the bathroom of Rockville High School and raping her.

The accused students, 18-year-old Henry Sanchez Milian and 17-year-old Jose Montano, are reportedly immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally. That made them people of great interest for foes of illegal immigration: Right-leaning pundits cited the pair as evidence that our schools were threatened by armies of illegal immigrant rapists. #RockvilleRape was a popular topic on Fox News, where one guest said "they're raping and killing our people, and that's why Trump won." Breitbart continuously played up the gruesome details, noting that "the suspects allegedly forced a girl to perform oral sex on them in a bathroom stall while they raped and sodomized her, despite her crying out in pain, begging them to stop, police said."

Now the case against the two teens has collapsed. According to The Washington Post:

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.

"As prosecutors we always go where the evidence takes us…regardless of public opinion or political pressures," McCarthy said, without taking questions from reporters.

This is a fairly stunning outcome, given the tone of previous reporting on the subject, which suggested the evidence was overwhelming. But sexual assault disputes are often more complicated than they first appear, which is why I cautioned that the teenagers shouldn't be deported without substantial due process.

The notion that immigrants commit more violence than other groups is false, and it would have remained false, even if these two teenagers had been guilty. But given that they are not guilty—as far as investigators can tell—right-wing pundits should be eating crow.

Of course, they will need to save a plate for the believe-all-victims crowd, whose narrative is also undermined by the outcome in this case. We are frequently told by victims' advocacy groups that no one ever lies about being raped, and when accusations are made, we should automatically trust the accuser. In truth, we don't have very reliable numbers for how many reported rapes are false. The available data suggests that they are uncommon, not that they never happen.

The Rockville rape case—which should now be known as the Rockville rape retraction, I suppose—is a reminder of why due process and the presumption of innocence are such important things. They are checks against presuming the worst about people who confirm our biases, whether those biases work against immigrants or just men accused of rape in general.

Two other notes. Just because the evidence suggests the sex was consensual does not mean it was appropriate. These were not college students in a dormitory; they were high school students in a public restroom. The school has every right to punish everyone involved.

Further, the behavior may be criminal even if it was technically consensual, given the ages of the people involved. The age of consent in Maryland is 16, however, people between the ages of 14 and 16 can legally consent to sex as long as the other party is not more than four years older. Since the state is dropping the sexual assault charges, it appears to be the case that both boys fall within that window.

The teens are still being charged with possession of child pornography because they had inappropriate pictures of the 14-year-old girl on their cell phones. She apparently sent the photos to Montano, who then shared them with Milian. That's bad behavior on his part, but it doesn't make sense—to me, at least—to prosecute consensual sexting between teenagers, even in cases like this one, where the age gap is egregious. (See my previous reporting on absurd witch hunts against teens for consensual sexting.)

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  1. “As prosecutors we always go where the evidence takes us…regardless of public opinion or political pressures,” McCarthy said

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  2. This is a fairly stunning outcome, given the tone of previous reporting on the subject, which suggested the evidence was overwhelming.

    I’ll say. Now I guess I can’t believe sexual assault accusers or our leftwing and rightwing media, even when everyone is singing in harmony.

    1. Fucking narratives, how do they work?

      1. What do you mean? Lots of money and clicks were enjoyed by everyone covering the story. The fact that the narrative is wrong is meaningless, just like facts themselves.

  3. Of course, they will need to save a plate for the believe-all-victims crowd, whose narrative is also undermined by the outcome in this case.

    Undermined. Sure, just like last time. I seem to recall something along the lines of “fake, but accurate”.

    Please see the top comment.

  4. Prosecutors took over the case and as they reviewed text messages, found there may have been an agreement between Montano and the girl that they would have sex. They also looked into whether Montano and Sanchez Milian ? in text messages ? had plotted to turn the planned encounter into a rape.

    At a court hearing March 30 over setting bond, Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Herdman told a judge evidence was being discovered daily ? some of it bolstering the accusations and some not. At that point of the investigation, though, she said text messages between the suspects showed they had at a minimum planned to commit a crime.

    “This was clearly a conspiracy between this defendant and the co-defendant to get this victim into that bathroom and rape her and commit other sexual assaults against her,” Herdman said in court.

    So we can’t believe prosecutors, either? My world is falling apart.

  5. “We are frequently told by victims’ advocacy groups that no one ever lies about being raped, and when accusations
    are made, we should automatically trust the accuser.”

    I don’t think that’s an accurate statement. I think what they say is exactly what you say later in this paragraph – that falsified rape accusations are rare. And I think there’s a difference between not yelling “Prove it!” at the victim/accuser, and automatically trusting everything they say and stringing up the accused/perpetrator. Rape victims are often treated in a variety of ways, many of which imply that a) they’re lying and weren’t raped, b) they were raped but asked for it (somehow), c) they’re wasting resources with their complaint. If there was a push to believe all rape “victims” automatically, I would be front and center denouncing it as a violation of the rights of the accused. But pushing for more empathetic and understanding law enforcement to adjust their thinking on rape is not crazy or unconstitutional.

  6. …Child pornography?

    DEPORT THEM!!!!

  7. Way to cook the narrative, Reason. All this means is that there are two other immigrants who raped this girl out on the street that haven’t been caught.

  8. Hey, if they didn’t want to be falsely accused of rape and had their mug shots paraded across the internet by patriotic Americans, they should have gotten in line and come here legally.

  9. But sexual assault disputes are often more complicated than they first appear, which is why I cautioned that the teenagers shouldn’t be deported without substantial due process.

    What? Regardless of whether they committed the rape or not, it’s still well established they’re here illegally. That, it itself, is plenty of reason to deport them! How much more due process would you like?

  10. But sexual assault disputes are often more complicated than they first appear, which is why I cautioned that the teenagers shouldn’t be deported without substantial due process.

    What? Regardless of whether they committed the rape or not, it’s still well established they’re here illegally. That, it itself, is plenty of reason to deport them! How much more due process would you like?

  11. “The teens are still being charged with possession of child pornography because they had inappropriate pictures of the 14-year-old girl on their cell phones. She apparently sent the photos to Montano”

    Are they charging the girl too? A 14 year old girl taking nude photos of herself and sending them to someone is a much more serious crime than rape, according to the people who write laws in the US.

    1. You can have sex with a minor if you’re less than 4 years older. You can actually look at a minor who is naked as long as you are less than 4 years older. But you can’t look at a digital image and not have actual sex even if you’re less than 4 years older.

      Just seems a bit odd to me.

      Not sure how the law on this should read… it just seems odd.

      1. I don’t understand the part where you can try someone as an adult, and punish them as an adult, for doing something that is an offense only because they are not an adult.

  12. The notion that immigrants commit more violence than other groups is false,

    It’s interesting the studies you describe in the linked article don’t show this yet you cite them as proof not merely evidence. The fact that crime has been dropping while the foreign born population has increased doesn’t show anything. If someone else supported their political preferences with such shoddy statistics Reason would be all over them.

    Get better.

  13. Why do you believe the prosecutors when they say they are dropping the case because no rape occurred? Isn’t it more plausible that being in a 100% Democrat jurisdiction they are dropping it to spite Trump and to help illegal immigration? Note that the excuse is apparently that the girl sent provocative material to one of the boys. That doesn’t mean she gave permission for both of them to do assorted shocking things to her in the bathroom at school. Note how vague the prosecutors about their reasons for dropping.

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