ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJZ/AP) —Montgomery County prosecutors made the bombshell decision to drop rape charges against two teenagers who are undocumented immigrants.
17-year-old Jose Montano and 18-year-old Henry Sanchez Milian came to the United States illegally through Central America just months before police alleged they sexually assaulted a 14-year-old classmate inside Rockville High School in March.
Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy says the facts in the case do not support the charges.
"We have concluded that the facts in this case do not support the original charges filed in this matter, do to the lack of corroboration and substantial inconsistencies from the facts that we have obtained from multiple sources since the filing of the original charging document. The original charges cannot be sustained and prosecution on those charges is untenable," he said.
Immigration officials were in Maryland District Court Friday morning and may try to deport both teens, who now face child pornography charges because of explicit images the alleged victim sent to one of them on her cell phone. Their attorneys decried those charges as unfair. They also say the Trump Administration politicized the case.
An attorney for Montano, Maria Mena, spoke out Friday about pornography charges her client still faces in juvenile court.
"[The 14-year-old girl] was the one that created the image, she was the one that sent the image to our client," she said. "And not just pictures, video. Very graphic videos, very vile pictures. And now they want to turn this around and charge our client with something that she created and sent. I keep saying our client is a juvenile. Our client is a juvenile. There are many juveniles in the state of Maryland that send pictures to their friends and are not being charged. Because, again, I've stated, the purpose of the pornography statute is to go against adults, not juveniles."
Montano's attorneys have filed paperwork to get him released today. They also say they will fight to keep him in the country.
Jack Smith, the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools released a statement in light of the development in the case:
The case got national attention after the White House called it an example of why the president wants to crack down on illegal immigration.
"This case blew up because they immediately assumed they were immigrants and as a result they immediately assumed they were rapist. And again the State obviously did the correct thing by doing a thorough investigation, unlike what the police department did," Mena said.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at a briefing on March 21st that the case was an example of why the President was cracking down on illegal immigrants.
At the White House briefing Friday, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she would not retract any past Administration statements about the case. She also defended the President against accusations his rhetoric was fueling people to rush to judgement about criminal cases against immigrants.
"To call into question his rhetoric to be anything other than somebody who has condemned hate and violence in all of it's forms is simply just a complete misrepresentation," she said.
Officials say Sanchez came to the U.S. from Guatemala illegally. Montano's lawyers say he came from El Salvador to live with relatives who are citizens.
The case has had a wide-ranging impact on the state, its timing essentially killed Sanctuary State legislation during the last session in Annapolis.
Montgomery County's State's Attorney says the 14-year-old and her family were given an extensive explanation about why rape charges were dropped.
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