The reported rape of a high school freshman by two classmates in Rockville, Maryland, has become part of the national conversation on immigration after the two boys charged with the crime were found to be in the US illegally.
Police charged 17-year-old Jose Montano and 18-year-old Henry Sanchez with first degree rape and two counts of first degree sexual offenses after they said the two freshmen raped a 14-year-old classmate in the men’s room at Rockville High School during school hours last Thursday. Both are being charged as adults and are being held without bond.
Prosecutors say 18yo rape suspect Henry Sanchez already had a pending “alien removal case.” He entered U.S. from Guatemala 7 months ago. pic.twitter.com/9Swce4DTbj
— Kevin Lewis (@ABC7Kevin) March 17, 2017
The victim was in the school hallway around 9am Thursday when she met with Montano, whom she told police was a friend, and Sanchez, whom she did not know. As she and Montano talked, he asked her for a hug, then “slapped her butt and asked her to come with him and his friend,” according to court documents. Montano then asked her for sex, but she refused. When he asked again “more persistently” and she again refused, he pushed her into the boy’s bathroom into the one stall with a door, where they were joined by Sanchez.
Despite telling the boys to stop and fighting against them, they took turns violently raping her, the graphic police affidavit read. During the incident the two boys spoke to each other in Spanish.
After Montano and Sanchez left the victim, she went to class, where she told school staff what happened. They reported the incident to police, who collected “suspected blood that may be mixed with male fluid” from the bathroom.
The day after the boys were arrested, officials confirmed that both suspects entered the country illegally less than a year ago from Central America, WJLA reported. Sanchez is from Guatemala and is currently under a deportation order, while Montano is from El Salvador.
“In August 2016, Henry Sanchez-Milian was encountered by a border patrol agent in Rio Valley Grande, Texas, who determined the individual had unlawfully entered the United States from Mexico,” US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Matthew Bourke said in a statement. “Sanchez-Milian was issued a notice to appear in front of an immigration judge, which is currently waiting to be scheduled.”
On Monday, ICE listed Montgomery County, Maryland as a jurisdiction that “choose not to cooperate with ICE detainers or requests for notification, therefore potentially endangering Americans.” Rockville is the county seat.
Both Montgomery County and the City of Rockville have policies that direct police not to ask people about their immigration status during interactions with the public, but both jurisdictions share information about arrested suspects with federal law enforcement, Bethesda Magazine reported. By this definition, neither Rockville nor Montgomery County is a sanctuary jurisdiction, which would not cooperate with federal immigration agencies at all.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the incident, which he described as “shocking, disturbing, horrific and whatever other words that come to mind.”
“This is a tragic event, and it’s horrendous and horrible and disgusting what this young woman in Rockville went through. I can’t possibly imagine,” he said. “So, first of all, let’s remember the human side of this, that this is a tragic event that no child, no person, no parent should ever have to deal with.”
Spicer also pointed out that the victim was a legal immigrant.
“To think that this kind of tragedy would occur to someone who’s personally endured that kind of struggle to come to this nation and then face this is reprehensible,” he said. “And it is not who we are as a country. I think it is troubling.”
However, he continued, the case raises many questions, including why an 18-year-old is in 9th grade, even though “the president recognizes that education is a state-run and a local-run issue.” The two suspects were enrolled as freshmen despite their age because they were taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, WTTG reported.
In January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to create the Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement office, or VOICE, which is tasked with working with victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. Tragedies like the Rockville case are “part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal,” Spicer said.
“This is why he’s passionate about this,” he added. “Because people are victims of these crimes… they’re victims of the economic piece of it, there’s a national security [impact], but immigration pays its toll on our people… if it’s not done legally.”
ICE has issued a detainer for Sanchez, meaning they could begin deportation proceedings against him, officials said. They declined to comment on Montano’s case because he is a juvenile.