DOJ wraps up probe into rape case vs Navarro

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Friday, February 14, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- An all-women panel of prosecutors on Friday will soon resolve the rape complaint filed against actor/television host Vhong Navarro by model Deniece Cornejo.

This developed after Navarro’s lawyer Romeo Johann Fernandez told the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday that it will only use as evidence the complaints filed against Cornejo, businessman Cedric Lee and six others for allegedly mauling him last month.

Navarro had repeatedly denied raping Cornejo at her condominium unit in Forbeswood Heights in Taguig City. Instead, he said a group of men led by Lee attacked him and he was even asked to pay as much as P2 million to cover the supposed damage to Cornejo’s unit.

The actor then lodged charges of serious illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threat, grave coercion, illegal arrest and blackmail against Cornejo, Lee and his sister Bernice, Simeon “Zimmer” Raz, Jed “Mike” Fernandez and JP Calma.

All of the respondents failed to appear at the preliminary investigation hearing as lawyer Arleo Magtibay, who represented Cornejo and the Lee siblings, said his clients chose to show up in another hearing at the Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 69 for her request for a temporary protection order against the actor.

The petition, which seeks to order Navarro not to go near Cornejo, was rejected by Judge Lorifel Pahimna for lack of merit.

Vhong Navarro
MANILA. The Department of Justice (DOJ) started on Friday its probe into the January 22 mauling incident involving actor Vhong Navarro and the group of businessman Cedric Lee and model Deniece Cornejo. Lee and Cornejo snubbed the hearing. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

Pressed for details, Navarro’s lead counsel Alma Mallonga said the court ruled that the petition failed to show any relationship between the model and the actor that would fall under the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act (Republic Act 9262).

“The law requires a dating relationship or a sexual relationship between the parties. Per the petition, other than the alleged rape, there was no relationship between Vhong and Deniece. It’s a legal argument that favored Vhong,” she said in a text message to Sun.Star.

With the dismissal, Mallonga said Cornejo and the Lee siblings have no further excuse to snub the proceedings at the DOJ, which will resume on February 21.

“The petition was a dilatory tactic,” she said.

The prosecutors directed Raz, Fernandez and Calma to appear at the next hearing. Also expected to attend are the police officers from the Southern Police District (SPD) who recorded the incident and security guards at Forbeswood Heights.

The same panel is looking into the complaint filed by the Taguig police against the Megaforce Security Agency, which secures Forbeswood, for obstruction of justice and violation of the Private Security Agency Law.

According to the police, the security agency must answer for its failure to report the incident, non-cooperation in the police investigation, hiding vital papers/evidence/records and non-disclosure or giving false or incomplete information. (Sunnex)

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