Rape suspect on house arrest pending his trial

Superior Court Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja granted yesterday a motion to modify the original $100,000 cash bail imposed on a man accused of raping a friend.

Manolo Romolor’s bail is now $10,000 cash.

Naraja placed Romolor on house arrest pending the outcome of his jury trial on Oct. 10, 2017.

Naraja said Aside from the $10,000 cash bail, the 33-year-old Romolor is not allowed to sell his car worth $2,875 as it will be attached as a secured bond.

Naraja also approved Romolor’s proposed third party custodian.

Upon posting bail, Romolor will be released from prison tomorrow, Friday, at 4pm.

Romolor will be allowed to continue to work. He can go to church on Sundays in the company of the custodian, and go jogging and play basketball at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium and oval.

He is prohibited from consuming any alcoholic beverages and from having any contact with the alleged victim and witnesses in the case, among other conditions.

Naraja noted that Romolor’s friends raised the $10,000 cash for his bail and that his employer is willing to continue his employment.

Assistant public defender Jamal Saleh, counsel for Romolor, cited that under the Commonwealth Rules of Criminal Procedure, an accused must be released pending trial under the least restrictive conditions necessary to “reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required.”

Assistant attorney general Betsy Weintraub, counsel for the government, opposed the motion, saying this is one of the rare cases where a $100,000 cash bail is appropriate and necessary to assure the defendant’s appearance at trial.

In her recommendation, Weintraub said if released on bail, Romolor has a strong incentive to flee to avoid prosecution and the means to do so.

Weintraub said the weight of the evidence against Romolor is substantial.

She said if the defendant flees to the Philippines, the current political situation in that country could make extradition extremely difficult and could take years.

Romolor has been in detention for almost eight months now.

The Office of the Attorney General charged him with sexual assault in the first degree, assault and battery, and disturbing the peace, for allegedly raping a drunk friend who was asleep after a party at an apartment in Gualo Rai on Nov. 19, 2016.

Romolor pleaded not guilty.

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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