A Rota police officer charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl is now a free man.
The Office of the Attorney General moved yesterday to dismiss the charges against the 48-year-old Melvin Maratita Manglona without prejudice. This means the government may re-refile the case in the future.
“Because the Office of the Attorney General has dismissed the charges, the case cannot move forward,” Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho said.
The judge pointed out that it is the OAG that decides to dismiss the case and the court can only hear the case as filed by the OAG.
Camacho vacated the jury trial set at the Rota courthouse for Jan. 10, 2017.
In the government’s voluntary dismissal of the case, assistant attorney general Betsy Weintraub said the alleged victim and the witnesses in the case reside on Rota, and the OAG has had no opportunity to interview them in person.
Weintraub said the government has also received information about the alleged victim that requires further investigation to determine whether prosecuting Manglona is in the best interest of justice.
Weintraub said both the prosecution and the defense have sought continuance of the trial but the court has denied those requests. Therefore, she said, the government voluntarily dismisses the case.
The prosecutor added that defense counsel Brien Sers Nicholas states that they don’t oppose the dismissal.
On Tuesday, four weeks before the trial, Weintraub filed a motion to continue the trial, citing various reasons, including that she is going off-island.
On Wednesday, Camacho denied the government’s motion to continue the trial.
Camacho said Weintraub’s off-island plans will have to be adjusted as it does not outweigh everyone’s preparation and readiness to proceed with the trial.
In the alternative, Camacho said, it is four weeks before the trial, which is ample time for someone in the OAG to prepare for the trial.
The OAG charged Manglona with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and one count of disturbing the peace. The defendant pleaded not guilty of the charges.
The OAG alleged that Manglona sexually abused the 14-year-old girl last July and Aug. 11, 2016, on Rota. The girl told police that the defendant has been sexually abusing her since she was 9.