Man found guilty of rape of pre-teen girl
Testimony, forensic evidence lead to conviction
A jury found a La Pla- ta man guilty of raping an 11-year-old girl on Wednesday afternoon in Charles County Circuit Court.
Jaime Antonio Rivera, 27, was convicted of first-degree rape and other charges for coerc- ing the girl to have sex with him by threatening her with a knife last June, court proceedings showed.
In Rivera’s charging documents, a detective noted that Rivera told police he was not a U.S. cit- izen.
With Judge Erik Nyce presiding, assistant state’s attorneys Sarah Freeman and Jared Albert were able to meet their burden of proof after three days of presenting witness testimony and evidence that proved to be damning.
The jury heard testimony from the victim who first reported the incident to police on June 10, 2016, after talking to a social worker at school a few days after Rivera raped her. Charles County Sher- iff’s Office Det. Kristen Gross told the court that the girl made disclosures to her at the hospital before a sexual assault nurse examination was conducted.
A search warrant was obtained and detectives recovered the clothing the victim had worn the night of the rape, as well as a DNA sample from the suspect, proceedings revealed. Maryland State Police forensic scientist Molly Rollo testified that Rivera’s DNA sample matched the DNA found from underwear the vic- tim said she had been wearing.
Jurors also heard tes- timony from the victim who recounted the night of the incident, June 4, 2016. She said she had been sleeping when she was woken up around 2 a.m. by Rivera, who demanded to have sex with her.
“He told me that if I didn’t, he was going to get his knife,” the victim tes- tified. When she said no, he left the room and came back with a knife, and she then complied. “I just laid there” and didn’t say any- thing, she testified. “… I was scared, and I was crying.”
The girl’s sister, now 10, testified that she had been laying awake on the top bunk of the bed, and heard Rivera come in the room drunk. She said that Rivera told her to move up to the top bunk, and lis- tened to her sister tell him to stop and heard him demand something or else he’d get a knife. The girl’s sister said she listened to her cry for about 30 to 50 minutes as the bed shook.
“You don’t just have their word,” Freeman told the jury during her closing arguments, “you have DNA and scientific evidence.”
Deputy public defender Edie Cimino argued that the allegations were fabricated, “a lie that has gotten out of hand,” and said Rivera’s DNA could have been incidentally transferred onto the underwear found in a shared dirty clothes hamper by police investigators while handling evidence.
The defense called no witnesses and Rivera, who had the proceedings translated into Spanish, elected not to testify.
The jury returned its verdict Wednesday afternoon, finding him guilty of the act.
A few months after his arrest in June, Rivera’s DNA sample collected during the investigation reportedly connected him to an unrelated cold case, and allegedly identified him as one of four men who gang raped a woman in 2010. He is scheduled to stand trial again on April 24.