Rape Case Advances
Judge Finds Probable Cause, Issues Gag Order
Posted: December 12, 2012
HARRISONBURG — Although a gag order issued Monday by Judge David O’Donnell prohibited the release of the results of Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, sources say the judge found probable cause in the case of two Harrisonburg teens accused of violently raping a woman in her apartment in October.
As a result of Tuesday’s decision in Rockingham County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Brandon Valentin and Darien Vasquez, both 16, will be tried as adults if prosecutors gain an indictment. That could happen as early as Monday, the next time a Rockingham County grand jury is scheduled to meet.
Valentin and Vasquez are accused of breaking into a 22-year-old woman’s residence on Bradley Drive in the Hunters Ridge complex in October and robbing and repeatedly raping her at knifepoint.
Vasquez is charged with 17 felonies, including two counts of rape, four counts of forcible sodomy, armed robbery and abduction.
Valentin is charged with 13 felonies, including rape, principal in the second degree to rape, armed robbery and abduction.
On Monday, O’Donnell ruled that the media was barred from Tuesday’s hearing, citing his concern about whether the defendants could get a fair trial, given the Daily News-Record’s previous publication of the defendants’ names and the possibility that the victim’s name would be published.
The DN-R’s policy is not to publish the names of victims in a sexual assault case.
The newspaper’s policy on naming juvenile defendants varies from case to case. Factors used to determine whether to publish a juvenile’s name include the age of the defendant, the seriousness of the crime and the weight of the evidence against them.
Following Monday’s hearing, the judge issued a gag order and threatened to arrest the attorneys if they violated his order, sources say.
According to prosecutors, officers responded to the 1400 block of Bradley Drive early on the morning of Oct. 20 for a report of a sexual assault and armed robbery. Police say that Valentin and Vasquez, who were stopped and arrested a couple of blocks away a short time later, confessed to the crimes during interviews with investigators.
Investigators say a video camera captured the two juveniles laughing and joking about the rape when they were left alone in an interview room.
The two teens are being held at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center in Verona. Despite Tuesday’s ruling, the pair will stay in the juvenile detention center until the resolution of the case.
If convicted, they face life in prison.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org