Apartment repairmen found not guilty of raping tenant

SAN MARCOS — A jury acquitted a former maintenance man accused of raping a single mother as she slept on her couch.
After a nearly two-week trial, jurors returned a not guilty verdict within one hour of deliberations Aug. 24 relating to the Dec. 30, 2008 alleged rape of Linda B. in her residence at the Terra Cotta apartment complex in San Marcos.
Samuel Lopez Duarte, 45, was charged with one count each of forcible rape and the rape of an unconscious person. If convicted of both charges, he faced up to nine years in prison, his attorney, Richard Duquette, said in a phone interview. Additionally, Duquette said Duarte, who is originally from Guatemala, but has resided in the United States legally for the last 20 years, would have been deported.
At the time of the incident, Duarte had worked as a repairman for the apartment complex. He contended the sex was consensual, just has it had been two other times.
Prosecutors alleged Duarte entered the victim’s apartment because of a work order she placed that morning to have a towel rack fixed. After dropping her son off at daycare, Linda B. testified she arrived home around 11 a.m. and fell asleep on her couch after drinking a 12-ounce can of malt liquor, Deputy District Attorney Natalie Villaflor said in her closing statement. The victim then woke up to Duarte having sex with her, and despite her pleas for him to stop, he continued and then left her apartment, Villaflor said.
“Either you believe Linda B. or you don’t,” Villaflor told jurors in her closing statement. The prosecutor said the only person who had a motive to lie in the case was Duarte, who faced termination and humiliation because he is married.
In the phone interview, Duquette said his client did initially lie to police when he was first questioned about the alleged rape because he didn’t want to lose his job or his employee health insurance for his family.
Citing medical records, Duquette said Linda B. has a long history of mental illness involving delusions and paranoia.
Additionally, he exposed several fabrications she made regarding the incident, including a day after confrontation at the laundry room with Duarte in which she said he tried to intimidate her not to report the incident, Duquette said. Duarte said she had asked him for $50 for the sex, which he had paid to her the two previous times, but didn’t have this time, and then she asked him for a $3 refund for money she lost in the laundry machines, which he called into the company, the lawyer said. Duarte’s phone records support his story, Duquette said.
“She’s not working, she needed money, and I think she got caught up in this situation, it took off, and she couldn’t stop the train,” Duquette said.
Linda B. is currently in a San Diego County residential treatment program and her then-4-year-old son has been placed with a foster family, according to court testimony.
One “silver lining” that may come from this ordeal is that Linda B. is finally getting the help that she needs, Duquette said. “Maybe she’ll be reunited with her son after she cleans up,” he said. “And maybe this thing will have helped.”

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