Man not guilty of rape charges
A Waldorf man was found not guilty Monday of charges he allegedly raped a young female family member in 2012.
The 16-member jury assembled to hear details about charges brought against Leonel Antonio Rondon, 26, of Waldorf in Charles County Circuit Court. After a week-long trial, Rondon was acquitted of allegedly raping a 7-year-old family member in 2012.
According to the child’s testimony, she was told by Rondon not to say anything to her mother or any other family members after the alleged incident occurred.
“I believe my daughter and I cannot go without getting justice,” the child’s mother testified in court.
According to the child’s testimony, she reportedly didn’t tell anyone because she was afraid of what he would do to her family. Testimony from the alleged victim said that Rondon came over to the house, turned the lights off and took her clothes off. The alleged victim also said that he closed the door to the bedroom when he entered her room.
During closing statements, lawyers for Rondon argued that children make up stories and that this was just a tale concocted by the young family member with coaching by the child’s mother, who was allegedly using her daughter as a means to secure her immigration status in the United States.
“You can come up with a story, but the truth always comes out,” Rondon’s lawyer said in closing arguments.
In their own closing argument, the defense stated the “state’s case was weak, and that Christine Martin — the nurse who testified as a medical expert — was biased and was not fully qualified to conduct such exam.”
To bolster their defense, Rondon’s lawyers brought expert witness Rachael Ullman, an immigration lawyer, to testify on just how one could acquire a U-Visa — a nonimmigrant visa set aside for victims of crimes (and their immediate family members) who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.
But after the state asked the child’s mother to present documents showing her travel documents and the child’s travel document to show that the dates were, in fact, way after the alleged rape was committed, the defense reversed their course of theory and had no further questions.
When the jury began to deliberate June 9, more than six notes were sent to the judge, requesting to re-hear additional testimonies. After the third note, with jurors asking to hear the testimony of Larson, the defense proposed that a mistrial be granted. Judge West immediately denied the defense’s motion.
Rondon was facing charges of second-degree rape, second-degree sex offense, third-degree sex offense, sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree assault. If convicted, he would have faced a minimum prison term of 15 years or the maximum, which is life in prison.
The jury’s deliberation began last Friday and a verdict was reached shortly before midday June 12. Rondon’s lawyers had no comment on the case and the Charles County States Attorney’s office did not respond to a request for a statement.