Saudi airman rejects plea deal in Vegas child rape
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Saudi Arabian air force sergeant rejected a plea deal in a child rape case Thursday despite a video being played in court of him telling police he had sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy at a Las Vegas Strip hotel.
Mazen Alotaibi, 24, appeared in Nevada state court and refused to plead guilty to reduced charges of attempted sexual assault and attempted lewdness. Instead he will go to trial in October and face multiple felony charges including kidnapping, lewdness with a child under the age of 14, sexually motivated coercion and sexual assault of a minor.
Alotaibi has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is being held at Clark County Jail on $1.7 million bail. He could spend the rest of his life in state prison if convicted.
In the video, Alotaibi told police he encountered the boy in the hallway of Circus Circus early Dec. 31. He said the boy wanted marijuana and offered to exchange sex for money.
“I didn’t force him,” Alotaibi told police. “He wanted weed. He wanted money. You have to understand my situation. I drank too much.”
The video was aired during a hearing on a bid by Alotaibi’s lawyer, Don Chairez, to get Clark County District Court Judge Stefany Miley to throw out the confession as improperly obtained.
Before the hearing, with an Arabic interpreter providing translation, Miley asked if Alotaibi was sure he wanted to reject an offer from prosecutors that would spare him trial if he pleaded guilty. Under the deal, Alotaibi would have faced a penalty ranging from probation to up to 80 years in prison.
Chairez argued that Alotaibi was too drunk, too sleepy and too limited in English proficiency to waive his right to have a lawyer present while answering police questions.
Alotaibi, sitting handcuffed in a police interview room, never asked for a translator and appeared at the beginning of the 70-minute videotaped interview to waive his right to have a lawyer present.
After several minutes of denials, Alotaibi said he was with the boy in the bathroom of the hotel room. The room had been rented by other Saudi military members who have since returned to their country. They won’t appear as witnesses at trial.
A Circus Circus security officer, Jose Haros, testified Thursday that Alotaibi didn’t appear intoxicated when he was arrested in the room about 9:30 a.m.