- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2017

A preliminary hearing for the younger of two men accused of raping 14-year-old girl inside a bathroom stall at Rockville High School will be postponed until April 7, a Maryland judge ruled Friday.

Jose Montano, 17, appeared in Montgomery County District Court on Friday where prosecutors requested a continuance in the case, saying new information about the case was “coming in daily.”

A day earlier, a judge rejected Mr. Montano’s request to be released on bail.
Mr. Montano, who is charged as an adult, and 18-year-old Henry Sanchez-Milian are both facing charges of rape in a case that has sparked national scrutiny of immigration practices and city’s so-called “sanctuary” policies for illegal immigrants.

Police said the two boys forced the 14-year-old girl into a boy’s bathroom stall at the high school and took turns raping her and sexually assaulting her. But Mr. Montano’s defense attorneys have contended that the sex acts were consensual, saying the girl had previously had sexual encounters with Mr. Montano. Citing messages exchanged between the two, defense attorney Maria Mena said the pair had planned to meet the day of the rape to have sex and that the girl “was not blindsided.”

The girl did not tell police anything about the prior encounters after she reported the incident, Ms. Mena said.

“She didn’t disclose the fact this was preplanned the night before,” she said.

Prosecutors have said text messages between the two boys show they plotted to have Mr. Montano convince the girl to have sex with him, and then for Mr. Sanchez-Milian to interrupt them and threaten to tell a teacher unless he was allowed to join in.

Immigration authorities have confirmed that Mr. Sanchez-Milian, a Guatemalan native, was in the county illegally. They said he was stopped by immigration agents while sneaking into the country last summer, but because he was 17 at the time, he was released and eventually traveled to Montgomery County to reside with family members there.

Authorities have disclosed less information about Mr. Montano, citing his age.
But his defense attorneys said Friday that Mr. Montano is from El Salvador and traveled to the United States last year after the death of an elderly guardian, who had adopted him following his mother’s death. It was unclear whether Mr. Montano illegally sneaked across the border or may have been permitted to travel legally, said his defense attorney David Wooten, adding that he did not believe his client had obtained a visa but that he also was not aware of any immigration detainer issued by authorities.

Mr. Wooten said Mr. Montano’s adopted family members are U.S. citizens and that if he acquitted of the crime, he “will have a chance to obtain legal residency.”

While several family members and friends attended Friday’s court hearing, some waiving at Mr. Montano as he was led out of the courtroom, they declined to talk with reporters.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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