The Superior Court has reduced the bail for the release of an 18-year-old man who is accused of raping a minor on two separate occasions, one of which allegedly happened on the grounds of the Jesus is Lord Church in Dandan.
Superior Court Associate Judge Theresa Kim-Tenorio reduced the bail by 50%—from $20,000 to $10,000—after arguments at yesterday’s bail modification hearing for John Timothy Villasis Vergara.
The court also allowed Vergara’s family to post 10% of the reduced bail, or $1,000, for his release.
Kim-Tenorio also approved the proposal of the suspect’s mother, Maryann Vergara, as his third-party custodian.
During the hearing, assistant attorney general James Houston opposed reducing the bail amount because of the seriousness of the crime and because it happened on two separate occasions and less than a year from one another. He stated that the initial $20,000 bail did not seem unreasonable if it meant protecting the victim and other minors from the same incident.
In addition, Houston argued that he was not convinced that Vergara’s mother would be able to control him and ensure that he follows all the court’s conditions.
However, Vergara’s lawyer, Office of the Public Defender’s J.P. Nogues, said there are no facts at this time to support the accusation being leveled against Vergara. Nogues said that everything the court has on Vergara remain allegations, adding that he feels it isn’t a strong case to begin with.
In a statement released by the Jesus is Lord Church pastor Liza Panuringan, she said JIL Church Saipan takes the allegations very seriously and will be conduct its own investigation to find out the truth behind the incident.
“ [We] believe each person is accountable to God and to the laws of men for their action or inaction. That there is a legal system in every country in place to prosecute the errant and protect the citizenry is a hallmark of every civilized society. This particular incident involving an 18-year- old boy who allegedly made sexual advances against a girl who is a minor is something that the JIL Church takes very seriously. The safety of its members, churchgoers, and guests in the premises of the Church is a paramount importance. Hence, the JIL Church will conduct its own investigation on the matter and will cooperate with the authorities, if necessary, in finding out the truth,” she said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, two sexual abuse of a minor cases were filed against Vergara: one for an incident that allegedly happened in Micro Beach back in August 2020, and another that allegedly happened in the restroom of the Jesus is Lord Church last June 2.