A trial date for an 18-year-old former St. Joseph High School student accused of raping a fellow student will not be set until prosecutors re-evaluate some charges, a Santa Maria judge ruled Thursday.
Shane Villalpando, who graduated from Righetti High School in June, was charged in April with allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl while he was a student at the Orcutt Catholic high school.
Villalpando, who posted bail and is not in custody, appeared in Superior Court in Santa Maria on Thursday for a preliminary hearing to determine whether the case should move to trial.
After hearing from both sides Thursday, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Edward Bullard said Villalpando would be held for three felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor, three felony counts of child abuse and one felony count of rape by use of drugs.
Villalpando was originally also charged with three felony counts of forcible rape, one felony count of administering a drug and one felony count of dissuading a witness.
The 14-year-old victim’s complaint alleges Villalpando raped her on multiple occasions between Jan. 28 and April 13 and then tried to prevent or dissuade her from reporting any incidents to the police.
Bullard set an arraignment for Nov. 15 to consider a new document with information about charges filed by Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens.
Thursday’s hearing focused on whether the sex between the 14-year-old and Villalpando was consensual.
Detective Matt Fenske, a 10-year veteran of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, was the sole witness.
Villalpando stared at the table in front of him during much of the testimony, intermittently looking up at the attorneys and Fenske.
Jebens walked Fenske through his April interview with the 14-year-old victim, who first started hanging out with Villalpando last fall by sneaking over to his house because a girlfriend was interested in Villalpando’s friend.
Once there, Fenske said, the victim separated from her friend and went into Villalpando’s bedroom, where she was uncomfortable and overwhelmed when he kissed her and penetrated her with his fingers.
“The victim was very intimidated by Villalpando,” Fenske said. “She felt scared to refuse him.”
After the initial encounter, Villalpando taunted the victim at school for not coming over to his house a different time, Fenske said.
The victim and her friend continued sneaking over to Villalpando’s home, Fenske said. While sexual relations between the 14-year-old and Villalpando escalated, she repeatedly told him she did not want to have sex until marriage, Fenske added.
Villalpando allegedly first raped the victim in January by holding her hands down while on top of her, he said, and did so two other times before her parents discovered she was seeing an 18-year-old after reading her diary. They forced her to stop seeing Villalpando.
Bullard allowed 10 pages of the victim’s diary into evidence Thursday.
Jebens said Villalpando manipulated the “young, naïve” victim as a high school senior who could offer her parties, alcohol and drugs.
“She’s a freshman. First semester of high school,” Jebens said. “The defendant is physically bigger than Jane Doe. These assaults happened in the defendant’s house. When he didn’t get what he wanted, he took it.”
Villalpando’s attorney, Catherine Swysen, countered that the victim was a willing participant, in part because she initially told her friends and parents that the sex was consensual.
“There were plenty of opportunities for Jane Doe not to go there,” Swysen said. “After her friend stopped going there, she continued to go on her own.”
Bullard said that while Villalpando wouldn’t be charged with forcible rape, he clearly had afflicted “serious mental suffering” on the victim.
“I do understand your argument,” Bullard said to Jebens. “I do find the defendant being manipulative. Basically, wearing her down. I think she did not give consent.”