Thursday, September 11, 2008

West High School Teacher Jose Fanjul Formally Charged With Five Counts Each Of Forcible Sexual Abuse And Sodomy In Utah's Third District Court

Update September 19th: Jose Fanjul in court for bail reduction hearing, bail continued at $200,000. Speculation that the "victim" is a Lolita, updated post HERE.

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.

Appearing in Utah's Third District Court via closed-circuit television from the Salt Lake County Jail, West High School teacher Jose Bernardo Fanjul was formally charged with five counts of second-degree forcible sexual abuse and five counts of first-degree forcible sodomy on September 11th, 2008. Stories from the Salt Lake Tribune and KSL Channel 5. Previous post HERE.

The alleged victim, a 17-year female student who was in one of his classes, claims she engaged in a variety of sexual activities with Fanjul at school after hours, and at his home during the period March through July 2008.

Fanjul will be represented by attorney Kenneth Brown. The judge set Fanjul's next court date on September 18th before Judge Ann Boyden, when presumably Fanjul will enter a plea. Fanjul most likely will plead not guilty; Brown told reporters today that "the case will be vigorously defended". Some supporters of Fanjul showed up, but chose not to talk to reporters afterward.

Fanjul was starting his fourth year as a West High social studies and Spanish teacher when he was arrested, said Jason Olsen, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City School District. He has been placed on leave pending an investigation into his alleged conduct.

Fanjul is being held in the Salt Lake County jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

So far, 82 comments have been posted to the KSL story. There's not as much support expressed for Fanjul today than yesterday; several people proclaimed his guilt. A couple of Mormon-bashers jumped on and tried to derail the thread, which is standard issue on any Utah discussion forum. Here's one interesting exchange that took place between two individuals.

Tbf149 @ 1:37pm - Thu Sep 11th, 2008

I know first hand that most prosecutors will not file charges unless they have highly credible and substantial evidence that the crime was committed. They don't like to lose and look stupid in front of the public. I was involved in evidence gathering in a recent rape case for a prosecutor and they were very detailed and through before they filed charges. You can bet that there is considerable evidence that this crime occurred.

Enigmatic @ 2:44pm - Thu Sep 11th, 2008

Prosecutors will file charges without consideration to ALL the evidence. In fact, they don't mind being wrong to a point, because the usually can ge someone to pled to a lesser charge just to avoid the possibility of losing in trial. Maybe the ONE prosecutor you are talking about here did her homework, but don't give out such a blanket statement that just isn't true.

Tbf149 @ 2:59pm - Thu Sep 11th, 2008

What happens when defendant does not plea to a lesser crime and the prosecutor is now stuck with a less than desirable case because of lack of evidence? MOST prosecutors are not that stupid!

Enigmatic @ 3:07pm - Thu Sep 11th, 2008

It happens EVERY DAY... What is more likely to happen is the scenerio I posted - for who in this day and age is so stupid as to think they can win the government - who usually doesn't play fair anyway.

Most prosecutors are not like Mike Nifong. They will ensure there is adequate evidence on hand to proceed with the case, even if a plea deal is turned down. The high bail set in this case implies prosecutors do have a solid case. Of course, on the other hand, let's not forget that Lohra Miller is the Salt Lake County District Attorney, and she has a tendency to make the news herself rather than allow her office to make the news.

It is quite possible that the female student came on to Fanjul, and Fanjul, in a moment of weakness, took her up on the offer, considering her age and her consensuality as "justification". Not to matter - this will not get him off the hook, since there is no such thing as consensual sex between a teacher and a student under the age of 18. No sexual contact between a teacher and a student under 18 is considered legitimate.

We will wait to see how he pleas on September 18th.

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