OPD wants testimony of alleged sex assault victim excluded anew

Citing prosecutorial misconduct, the Office of the Public Defender moved again Tuesday to exclude the testimony of the alleged victim in a 2013 sexual assault case filed against former Rota liaison employee Allan Apatang Taitano.

Assistant public defender Heather M. Zona, counsel for Taitano, also asked the Superior Court to dismiss the case due to alleged violation of Taitano’s right to speedy trial.

Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho set a hearing on Taitano’s motion on April 11, 2018.

Zona said the Office of the Attorney General manipulated the evidence in this case by telling the alleged victim and only eyewitness not to talk to the defense lawyer.

Zona said suppression of evidence favorable to the defendant or that is material to guilt or punishment denies due process, regardless of whether bad faith was involved.

“Here, there is no question as to the government’s bad faith,” she said.

Zona said the case should be dismissed because Taitano’s constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated.

She asserted that dismissal is appropriate because the government is responsible for the substantial and unwarranted delay.

Taitano was arrested on April 28, 2013, for allegedly sexually assaulting a man. The OAG filed the case on May 10, 2013.

In October 2014, the Superior Court excluded the testimony of a mother and her son, whom Taitano allegedly tried to sexually assault.

The trial court also granted Taitano’s motion to exclude the testimony of the alleged victim.

Last December, the CNMI Supreme Court vacated the Superior Court’s exclusion ruling and remanded the case to the trial court.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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