By Lemuel Herg
“SG,” the victim and complaining witness, alleges that when she was 14 years old, her uncle spiked her drink and raped her.
Jose Luis Garcia faced his preliminary hearing on March 6, 2019, the Honorable David Rosenberg presiding in Department 14. Garcia has two counts against him: one for rape by force and/or fear and one for rape of an intoxicated person.
On an October day in 2009, a young 14-year-old SG was invited out to grab some burgers with her uncle to celebrate her upcoming birthday, the very same uncle who brought her from Mexico to the U.S. when she was around the age of 5.
But on the way to a Jack in the Box in Woodland, Jose Garcia turned into Romey’s Liquors. There he bought a water and a Sprite, spiked one of them, and gave the spiked drink to SG.
From there, Jose drove in circles for 20-30 minutes to wait for the effects of the drug to fully develop—afterwards pulling up to a nearby hotel, the Cinderella Inn, now the Journey Inn Woodland. There he took her up to a room, telling her not to “look at me as an uncle, but as a man.” Jose then threw SG onto the bed and proceeded to force himself onto her and rape her, telling her that this is normal.
Afterwards, he helped her to the car due to her still being under the influence, where they then got a birthday burger at Jack in the Box. During the way back home, Jose suddenly kicked SG out of the car, only a few blocks away from the house.
So went the testimony of SG, crying in court while mentioning that she used to look up to her Uncle Jose as a father figure, since she never knew her own biological father.
While SG lived with her mother in Robbins, in Sutter County, Jose would often come over and touch SG inappropriately, telling her to touch him back and forcing her to kiss him—he would even molest her with people in the room.
SG claimed that she wanted to tell the authorities, but Jose threatened that child services would take her and her sisters away and send them back to Mexico if she did.
Yet despite SG’s emotional story, not everyone believed it. The defense brought up the fact that SG’s grandmother claims that SG has alleged various other men to have raped her, throwing some doubt onto her credibility.
In addition, SG also filed a harassment report against one of her cousins—SG explained the situation. When she was 17, she had a fight with her mother and decided to go live with her aunt in Santa Barbara. In Santa Barbara, the aunt found out about SG’s rape story and proceeded to tell the entire family. The aunt’s family then chased SG out of that house too, calling her “Jose’s b***h”, or “Jose’s girlfriend.”
The defense also pointed out various contradictions in SG’s testimony. SG gave three total statements: one to the Santa Barbara police, one to the Woodland police, and then once more today in court.
When testifying in court, SG stated that the Sprite was the spiked drink given to her, but this contradicts with her previous statement she gave to a Woodland Police Officer, Mathew Jameson, in which she said that the spiked drink was a water.
She also stated in court that Jose used a condom when raping her, but this too contradicts with a previous statement given to Jameson in 2015, where she stated that Jose raped her without wearing a condom.
Lastly, SG testified to the Santa Barbara Police that the rape happened when she was 13, turning 14, but when talking to Officer Jameson, she testified that the rape happened when she was 15 and turning 16 years of age. Now in court, she testified that the rape happened when she was 14, turning 15.
When Officer Jameson came to testify, he mentioned how he checked the school records to see if they corroborated with the part of SG’s testimony that stated that she didn’t go to school for a week after the rape. Jameson said that he found a five-day break from school when she was 16, but admitted to not checking any dates from before SG was 15 years old.
Jameson mentioned one last concerning topic in his investigation: Jameson asked SG if her older sister had been raped and/or molested by Jose, to which SG responded “no.” Jameson then asked her older sister directly, who said that SG called her earlier that month and told her to lie to the detectives and say that Jose did rape her. When Jameson confronted SG about this, SG claimed innocence. Jameson thus once again called the older sister to tell her SG’s response. The older sister then replied with saying that her previous statement about SG coercing her was in itself actually the lie, and that she was pressured to make that first lie by her grandmother and Jose himself.
The sister then testified that yes, Jose molested her too—she disliked Jose, mentioning that he would often ask her to hide his drugs for him while trying to act as a surrogate father to their family.
Officer Jameson then moved onto another daughter. Apparently during the 15-minute break between SG’s and Jameson’s testimony, Jameson had taken a new statement from SG’s younger sister, who claimed that Jose never raped her, but nonetheless still molested her.
In the face of all this, Jose Garcia had an explanation—he told Officer Jameson that he had told SG a story one time of his taking a young girl to a hotel to have sex with her. Then later, when he passed by the Cinderella Inn, it was SG that excitedly pointed out the hotel and asked Jose if that was the hotel where he took the young girl to—implying that SG is just confusing her rape story with another story that Jose told her.
In the end, the defense argued that there were too many inconsistencies and no direct evidence given, while the prosecution argued that the main facts were straight and that all the smaller inconsistencies happened simply due to the age of the allegation.
The judge ruled that there are far too many testimonies and claims to dismiss this as having no evidence—the defendant will have to face a trial and a jury. A jury which will have to discern the truth among all these conflicting and contradictory stories—the older sister, the victim, and the defendant—all having their own side to the story. Arraignment follows on the 21st of March at 8:30am in Department 14.