Update November 11: KSL reports that Fanjul has pleaded not guilty. Another hearing is scheduled for December 22nd, and a trial is tentatively scheduled for February.
Update January 12th, 2009: The Deseret News reports that Fanjul's trial will not take place on February 10th, but will be delayed indefinitely, despite defense objections.
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.
On Tuesday October 28th, 2008, the West High School teacher accused of sexually abuse of a student had his preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial. Jose Bernardo Fanjul is charged with five counts each of forcible sexual abuse and sodomy in alleged assaults on a female student in his history class. Full stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, and KSL Channel 5.
Fanjul's 16-year-old accuser was the "star" of the show today. She walked into the courtroom crying this morning (how convenient) and gave detailed accounts of multiple encounters between them. The teen said that in February or March of this year, their relationship went beyond that of student and teacher. She claimed Fanjul asked for suggestions about how to become a more effective teacher. She e-mailed him and says that led to them becoming friends, which evolved into a sexual relationship. She further claimed that they had multiple sexual encounters in Fanjul's classroom, the school's elevator and twice at his house. [Ed. Note: Wait a minute! What does the girl mean by "February or March"? Either it occurred in February, or it occurred in March. How could the girl not remember which month the "assaults" occurred?]
However, Fanjul's attorney immediately counterattacked, questioning the girl's credibility. In response, the girl insisted she wasn't lying today, but admitted she had lied in past investigations to police officers and also under oath. During a previous bail reduction hearing on September 19th, Fanjul's attorney said the girl had also accused West High counselor Marco Herrera of similar conduct. Herrera did plead guilty and is serving prison time for that crime.
Nevertheless, despite the doubts, Utah Third District Court Judge Ann Boyden decided there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial. Fanjul's arraignment hearing is now scheduled for November 10th, but by that time, the charges may be different. The Deseret News reports that prosecutors are considering amending the charges to include felony rape.
Commentary: Sorry, but I just can't buy this girl's story. First, she can't even remember which month this took place. Most people remember when traumatic or significant events occurred in their lives. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when JFK got shot and when the WTC was attacked.
Second, she's admitted she's previously lied officially, both to investigators and even under oath. Why should we believe her now, particularly in the absence of corroboration in the form of witnesses and/or forensic evidence?
Why did Marco Herrera plead guilty, then? Either because he actually had it off with this Lolita, in which case the punishment's deserved, or else he couldn't afford an expensive legal battle. But what's the mathematical likelihood of two officials from the same school banging underage chicks during the same time frame? Rather low, I would imagine.