Second Grand Jury Indicts Man In Condom-Rape Case
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A grand jury Tuesday indicted a man accused of raping a woman who asked him to wear a condom. Another grand jury had refused to bring charges last month, prompting protests.
Joel Rene Valdez, 27, was indicted on charges of aggravated sexual assault and burglary with intent to commit aggravated sexual assault, District Attorney Ronnie Earle said.
″We think that the right message is being sent now,″ said Earle.
Police said Valdez broke into the woman’s home and held a knife on her; he admitted hiding in her home but said she consented to sex.
The refusal of another grand jury to indict Valdez set off protests from women’s groups and others, including a rally by about 100 people outside the county courthouse.
The woman in the case told the Austin American-Statesman she was ecstatic about the indictment. She had not testified before the first grand jury, but did appear before the second. Police have not identified the woman.
The woman said she told the grand jury ″that just because I protected myself from rotting of AIDS for seven years doesn’t mean I consented.″
She also said, ″I’d like to thank all the people that took an interest in my case. It gives me a new faith in people.″
The grand jury recommended that bond be set at $100,000, and Valdez remained in Travis County Jail. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Grand jury proceedings are secret under law, and prosecutors wouldn’t discuss the reasons for the first panel’s action Sept. 30. Earle’s office resubmitted the case to a second grand jury.
Police say the woman was raped Sept. 16 by a man who broke into her home and held a knife on her. She said she asked him to wear a condom because she feared sexually transmitted diseases.
Valdez told police he had sex with the woman after hiding in her apartment and said she consented to have sex.
″She’s the one who gave me the condoms. If she didn’t want to, why would she give me the condoms?″ he said.
Despite the first panel’s refusal to indict, police filed a burglary charge against Valdez.
The woman voiced outrage over the initial refusal to indict the man. ″I was raped by a man and now I’m being raped by society,″ she said.
Earle said he didn’t believe the woman’s actions should have precluded charges.
″We believe that whatever a woman has to do to survive such a violent encounter cannot be held against her and must not affect the legal case against her attacker,″ he said.