Update October 28th: Judge Ann Boyden decides to proceed with trial, arraignment set for November 10th. Updated post HERE.
Update May 4th, 2009: Trial cancelled, hearing on motion to dismiss charges scheduled for May 8th. Updated post HERE.
Update June 5th, 2009: Jose Fanjul found NOT GUILTY on all charges. Updated post HERE.
The girl accusing West High School teacher Jose Bernardo Fanjul may be a Lolita who possibly set up convicted sex abuser and former West High counselor Marco Herrera, and may have even pursued another teacher at the high school. So stated Fanjul's defense attorney Kenneth Brown at a bail reduction hearing for his client. Full story on KSL Channel 5. Previous posts HERE and HERE.
Brown argued that history teacher Jose Fanjul is the victim, and the girl making these accusations is a "predator". He claimed that the teenager accusing Jose Fanjul of sexual abuse also accused West High counselor Marco Herrera of similar conduct. "She was sworn to tell the truth, and she didn't tell the truth. She told a lie in that case, your honor, and went back to her room and said, 'Yeah I just lied in court.' The truth means nothing to this girl," Brown said. In addition, Brown also reasserted Fanjul's complete innocence, saying ,"We are contending that nothing happened. But under her version of it, all of it was consensual. In fact, she targeted him".
But the state claims Fanjul knew the girl was involved in the Herrera case and still took advantage of her. Prosecutor Cristina Ortega said, "That's the first concern I have, is he was a teacher and held a position of special trust". But Ortega admits that the girl even pursued another teacher at West High. Sometime after that incident, the girl was expelled, and the principal alleged said, "I hope she never comes back because she is a predator".
Notwithstanding, the judge denied Fanjul's request to reduce his $200,000 bail, which does seem excessive in light of his previously clean criminal record, even though he's been charged with five counts of second-degree forcible sexual abuse and five counts of first-degree forcible sodomy. Nonetheless, defense attorney Ken Brown remains optimistic. Brown said, "We believe he will be exonerated. This bond reduction hearing was a disappointment, but we're in for the long haul". Fanjul's next hearing will be in late October.
Commentary: It is recognized that it is a common defense tactic in such cases to denigrate the "virtue" of the victim in order to make a better case for the accused. However, the allegations against the "victim" appear quite damning. Even the prosecutor admitted that the girl was pursuing other teachers, and that she was expelled from school for this behavior.
What's likely is that Fanjul refused the girl's advances, and she's getting revenge by cooking up bogus charges. Exactly five counts of sexual abuse and five counts of sodomy? That configuration sounds a bit too choreographed to suit me. This also sullies the conviction of Marco Herrera; is it possible that he pleaded guilty because he couldn't afford an expensive defense?
If it is determined that the girl deliberately and knowingly made false charges, and was of sound mind when she did so, she needs to be tried and sentenced to exactly the same penalty as Fanjul would receive if he was convicted. This would deter other Lolitas from playing the same game in the future.