DENNIS JAMITO

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DOJ charged Catholic priest of raping student

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted a parish priest based in Nabunturan, Compostella Valley for allegedly molesting a junior college student.
 
In a five-page resolution signed by Justice Undersecretary Leah Tanodra-Armamento, the justice department ordered the Provincial Prosecutor of Compostella Valley to file the information for the crime of rape against Fr. Melvin Dela Cuesta.
 
Records show that complainant, Ara (not her real name), 21, a third-year BS Office Administration student at the Assumption College of Nabunturan met Fr. Dela Cuesta when she worked as part-time clerk in St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in the locality.


 
On July 23, 2006, Dela Cuesta allegedly called Ara to tell her to wait for him at the convent.
 
While waiting for him, she fell asleep with one “Nanay Tecing” inside Fr. Dela Cuesta’s room.
 
Later when the priest arrived, Ara claimed that he told her to fond or massage his chest, which she obeyed.
 
To Ara’s surprise, Dela Cuesta unlocked her bra, pulled her skirt and kissed her breast.
 
Ara said she felt helpless when she was cornered at the wall after pushing herself away from him.
 
She alleged that she tried to resist but he was too strong and in due course raped her.
 
In her affidavit, Ara claimed that Dela Cuesta later told her to eat breakfast and go back to the office soon to deposit money but she then never went back to the office or the convent.
 
In support of her allegations, Ara submitted her medical certificate dated August 2, 2006 indicating that she was sexually abused and suffered genital injury.
 
One Jo Ann Sapotera, however, claimed that Ara confided to her that she had sex with her boyfriend Jemry “Nonoy” Garceza for several times on July 26 and July 27, 2006 which could possibly the primary cause of her vaginal lacerations.
 
After a preliminary investigation, a resolution was issued dismissing the complaint for rape against Fr. Dela Cuesta.
 
Ara’s camp then filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied which prompted her to file a petition for review before the DOJ.
 
The DOJ ruling stated that, “the assailed resolution is hereby reversed and set aside. The provincial prosecutor…is ordered to file the information for the crime of rape against (the) respondent…”
 
Citing a Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, the DOJ noted that, “settled is the rule that no woman in her right mind would openly acknowledge the violation of her person and allow the examination of her private parts if she has not been raped.”
 
“Classmates of the victim (Ara) declared…(that) complainant appeared to them looking devastated and down-trodden and intimated to them that she would not like to go back to the convent, and even looked terrified as they passed by the convent with respondent (Fr. Dela Cuesta) in sight, giving them the idea that she was sexually molested,” the DOJ ruling likewise stated. (JC)

September 4, 2011 - Posted by | Justice Issue, National

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