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Alleged SRJC rape detailed in court

Published: Monday, July 23, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 9:54 a.m.

A Santa Rosa Junior College student testified Monday she was raped by a classmate who had keys to several campus buildings, including the swim center where she was attacked.

The 23-year-old woman testified the man she believed was a teaching assistant, Marco DeAnda-Vargas, 30, also had keys to a Shushaw Hall utility closet, where he kept personal items and bragged about spying on women in two adjoining bathrooms.

He furnished the closet with synthetic grass, brought in food and books, and talked about plans to “build something” on the roof, she testified.

DeAnda-Vargas would never say where he got the vast assortment of keys that seemed to fit locks all over campus, she said.

“I thought he was working for the school,” the woman testified in a preliminary hearing for DeAnda-Vargas, who's charged with forcible rape, sodomy and digital penetration along with two misdemeanors.

A campus police officer later testified that DeAnda-Vargas was not a school employee. A search of his apartment turned up other keys that DeAnda-Vargas claimed he found, Officer Joe Richardson said.

“He was not authorized to have any key to the school,” Richardson testified.

It does not appear DeAnda-Vargas could see into the women's restroom or had drilled any “peepholes” from the utility closet, Richardson said. Other items found inside included a pillow, reading material and personal lubricant, Richardson said.

The woman testified she met DeAnda-Vargas in January in her Thursday night dance class. The two became friends, eventually attending an off-campus event together at Ellington Hall in Santa Rosa.

She said her 40-year-old boyfriend was too tired to dance so DeAnda-Vargas, whom she thought was gay, filled in for him.

After class on March 15, the woman testified she went for coffee with DeAnda-Vargas and was talking to him outside the Bertolini building about “aliens, conspiracy theories and UFOs.”

When she said she was cold, he produced a key to the Quinn Swim Center. They went inside and sat down on blue exercise mats, she said.

Inside the swim center, the woman said she removed her coat and shoes before DeAnda-Vargas attacked her. She cried as he ripped off her exercise clothes and leotard in a violent act she estimated lasted about two minutes.

Afterwards, he threatened to hurt her if she told anyone, she said. He forced her to give him a hug before they parted company for the night, she said.

“I thought this person was my friend,” she said. “I trusted him.”

She said she didn't tell her boyfriend that night because she was scared and ashamed but reported the attack to police the next day.

DeAnda-Vargas was arrested March 19. He remains in custody on a federal immigration hold.

DeAnda-Vargas' lawyer, Joe Bisbiglia, suggested the two had consensual sex. Bisbiglia asked the woman why she would go into a darkened building with him after complaining he grabbed her butt in a Santa Rosa store a week earlier.

Also, he questioned how DeAnda-Vargas could struggle with her to remove her leotard while at the same time taking off his own clothes.

“Isn't it true you made plans to have sex with Marco that night?” Bisbiglia asked.

She said no.

“What are you talking about?” she said at one point in the cross-examination.

After about an hour of testimony, Judge Gary Medvigy sided with the woman, finding there was evidence to support the rape charges. He ordered both sides to return to court Aug. 2.

DeAnda-Vargas faces eight years in prison if convicted, his lawyer said.

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