ROCKVILLE – Prosecutors will have until May 5 to decide whether to go forward with rape and sexual assault charges against Jose O. Montano, a Rockville High School student accused of raping a fellow student.
Montano, 17, along with Henry E. Sanchez, 18, was charged with first-degree rape and two first-degree sexual offense charges after police said the two Rockville High School students raped a 14-year-old girl during school hours.
District Court Judge Eugene Wolfe set Montano’s trial date for May 5, which means the state’s attorney will have until then to either proceed or drop the charges against Montano.
“Hopefully, they’ll make the right decision and realize Mr. Montano was arrested hastily without an investigation,” said Montano’s attorney, David Wooten.
According to the statement of probable cause, Montano and Sanchez approached the 14-year-old girl in a hallway at Rockville High School, and after she refused a sexual advance, Montano and Sanchez forced her into a bathroom, removed her clothes and raped her.
“This was clearly a conspiracy to rape her and commit other sexual assaults,” said Debbie Feinstein, one the prosecutors for the State’s Attorney’s Office for Montgomery County.
Police arrested Montano and Sanchez March 17 after the 14-year-old girl told a school administrator about the alleged rape.
Montano’s defense attorneys said text messages between Montano and the 14-year-old girl from the day prior to the alleged rape show that Montano and the 14-year-old girl planned to have a consensual sex at school that day and that the two had a prior sexual relationship. Wooten, along with Montano’s other attorney, Maria Mena, used the text messages to prompt another bond hearing. Montano was denied bond again.
The text messages have not been made public, nor have prosecutors from the State’s Attorney’s Office commented on them.
While Montano awaits trial, Sanchez will appear in district court Friday for a preliminary hearing.
The alleged rape at Rockville High School has drawn national media attention and comments from the White House because of the immigration implications connected to the alleged crime.
According to Matthew D. Bourke, a spokesperson for Immigration and Custom Enforcement, a border patrol agent stopped Sanchez in August in Texas for illegally entering the United States. Sanchez was supposed to have a hearing in front of federal immigration judge, but the hearing was never scheduled.
Some have used Sanchez’s immigration status as an anecdotal example of why they believe the U.S. needs stricter immigration enforcement.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in March the alleged rape at Rockville High School is a reason why President Donald J. Trump has put such a great emphasis on immigration enforcement.
“I think part of the reason the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this,” said Spicer of the alleged rape at Rockville High School.
When campaigning for president, Trump pledged to deport undocumented immigrants, build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and make the Mexican government pay for the wall.
As president, Trump signed an executive order to defund “sanctuary jurisdictions,” or places that do not help federal authorities enforce immigration law. It is unclear whether Montgomery County or the City of Rockville is a sanctuary jurisdiction. Elected officials from the County and the city maintain each is not a sanctuary jurisdiction.
After the preliminary hearing April 7, Wooten said the White House has politicized the case and that charges would most likely be dropped if there were no national pressure.
“I don’t think this case would even be in the situation it’s in if wasn’t for the politics,” Wooten said.