Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trial Of Accused West High School Sex Abuser Jose Fanjul Canceled; Defense Motion To Dismiss For Prosecutorial Misconduct To Be Argued On May 8th

Update June 5th, 2009: Jose Fanjul found NOT GUILTY on all charges. Updated post HERE.

A defense motion to dismiss charges against West High School teacher Jose Bernardo Fanjul, accused of having sex with a female student, triggered the cancellation of his trial, which was to begin on Monday May 4th, 2009 in Third District Court. Third District Judge Ann Boyden said the motion to dismiss based upon prosecutorial misconduct requires a special hearing, which is now scheduled for Friday May 8th. The judge also imposed a gag order on all parties connected to the case.

Update May 8th: Defense attorneys for Fanjul withdrew their motion asking for the case to be dismissed today. The defense had claimed Fanjul could not get a fair trial after prosecutors purportedly prejudiced potential jurors by filing charges against two other men accused of having sex with the 16-year-old girl. But defense attorney Ken Brown said Friday the issue of a "polluted" jury pool became moot when all parties agreed to dispense with a jury and try the case before 3rd District Judge Ann Boyden, who ordered the four-day trial to start June 2. KSL news video of this latest development embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

The defense motion claimed prosecutors purposely waited until last week to charge two potential defense witnesses with lying under oath about having sex with the same girl who allegedly had sex with Fanjul. The motion, filed by Ken Brown and Ann Marie Taliaferro, claims prosecutors had threatened for months to file the charges, then abruptly did so on the eve of the trial, and also leaked information about the cases to the media. As a result, Fanjul's ability to get a fair trial has been compromised.

At a January pre-trial hearing, the two men in question each denied having sex with the girl. The defense apparently hoped that at trial the men's testimony would discredit the girl's assertion about having sex with Fanjul. On Thursday April 30th, the two men were each charged with several criminal counts.

One of the men, 27-year-old Bozhider D. Petajan, had admitted to an investigator that he did have sex with the girl and that he had lied about it at the January hearing. The man was charged with giving second-degree felony false or inconsistent material statements and third-degree felony obstructing justice. The other man, 30-year-old Augustine Allotey, continues to deny having had sex with the girl, but was charged with second-degree felony false or inconsistent material statements, third-degree felony unlawful sexual activity with a minor and class A misdemeanor obstructing justice.

But the girl claimed she had sexual intercourse with the 30-year-old man in December 2007 when she was 15, at a residence where he was house-sitting. The girl was able to describe the man's bedroom, which is in the basement of the home and not visible from any open area on the main level of the residence.

Fanjul, 46, a U.S. history and Spanish teacher, is charged with five counts each of first-degree felony forcible sodomy and second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse for allegedly having sex with the 16-year-old female student between March and July 2008. Read my first post about this case from September 2008 HERE, which contains links to other posts on the case.

The victim is the same girl who, when she was 14 years old, had sex with West High counselor Marco Herrera between April and June 2007, according to court documents. Herrera, who was 51 years old at the time of the sexual encounters, pleaded guilty to three second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse. He was sentenced to consecutive one-to-15-year prison terms. And if Fanjul's case is thrown out, you can bet Herrera will be asking for a new trial.

And considering this so-called "victim" has apparently been sleeping with anything that had a penis in the Salt Lake Valley, a new trial for Herrera might be very much in order.

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