Jury trial begins for man in alleged rape

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The jury trial for a man accused of rape began Monday with the selection of a panel of jury members and opening statements.

Over 60 members of the public showed up on Monday after being summoned to jury duty. The Superior Court selected eight individuals to serve on the panel of jurors for the trial of Manolo Romolor.

Romolor is being charged with sexual assault in the first degree and disturbing the peace after an alleged rape incident that happened in November 2016.

After selecting the jurors, Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Naraja ordered both parties and the jury to return after a recess to start with the trial.

Office of the Attorney General’s Teri Tenorio, who represents the government, said in her opening statement Monday that what Romolor did was rob the victim of her right to make a choice.

“This case is about how a very important personal choice was taken away by the defendant, a person a young woman considered a friend when he sexually assaulted her,” she said. “The defendant did not give [the victim] a choice, but rather made one of his own.”

Tenorio also mentioned that the assault took place on a bed that was being shared by two other adults, one who allegedly bore witness to the assault, and their children.

Romolor’s lawyer, Bruce Berline, said in his opening statement that it wasn’t about depriving the victim of choice, but more of the victim trying to hide her embarrassment of getting caught in the act by covering up the incident by saying it was rape.

Berline cited the story of a girl in a similar case who was devastated and embarrassed by her actions and blamed it on another person just to save herself.

“That is what the evidence in this case will show you. You will hear from the government’s main witness [the victim]. …She wanted to get drunk, that was her goal and she got sick. Later…Manolo and the victim had sex. She starts moaning and this wakes up [the witness] who is inches away from her, a mother of three kids who are just mere feet away. …[The victim] is embarrassed and full of regret for getting caught having sex in a room with two adults and three kids. In order to save her dignity and to save herself from embarrassment, [the victim] blames it on Manolo,” he said.

After the opening statements and a brief examination and cross-examination of the government’s first witness, preliminary investigator Paul Ichihara, the trial was put on recess and continued yesterday. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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