Trial set for SRJC student accused of rape

William Rohrs, Staff Writer

Marco DeAnda-Vargas will be tried Oct. 5 for the March 15 alleged rape of an SRJC student in the Quinn Swim Center.

DeAnda-Vargas is charged with rape by force or fear, sodomy by use of force, sexual penetration against the victim’s will, possessing stolen property valued at $400 and possession of burglary tools.

Pre-trial testimony on July 23 indicated that the allegedly raped student knew DeAnda-Vargas as a teacher’s assistant in her jazz dance class. On the night of March 15, the woman was waiting for her boyfriend when DeAnda-Vargas reportedly approached her. The pair entered the Bertolini Student Center and talked about “conspiracies, UFOs and aliens” until she mentioned feeling cold. DeAnda-Vargas suggested taking them to a warmer location, she testified in court.

Producing a key, DeAnda-Vargas unlocked the doors to the Quinn Swim Center. “He wouldn’t tell me where he got the key,” the woman said. “I thought he worked here.” After talking briefly on the mats in the center, DeAnda-Vargas reportedly tore off her clothes and digitally, vaginally and anally raped the victim.

“There was bleeding,” she said. “After I was raped, I ran into the bathroom, put on my clothes and cried for a couple minutes.” Concerned with sexually transmitted diseases, she confronted DeAnda-Vargas about whether he had any; she testified that he replied, “It could’ve been a lot worse, a lot rougher.”

The testimony raised questions on religious motives for the assault. “He didn’t like the fact that I was Christian or something,” she said in court. “ He was telling me ‘I’m going to teach you a lesson’, or ‘This is what you get.’”

A police search of a utility closet in Shuhaw Hall, a place DeAnda-Vargas was rumored to have access to, found that the closet was locked. “According to a locksmith, the lock was not an SRJC lock,” said SRJC police officer Joe Richardson. The contents of the closet included “a bottle of hot sauce, a bottle of KY lubricant, and various reading materials,” Richardson testified.

Police do not know how DeAnda-Vargas got the keys to the Quinn center, Shuhaw Hall utility closets and women’s bathrooms. DeAnda-Vargas claimed to have found them. A collection of DeAnda-Vargas’ personal effects included burglary tools.

The testimony included fragments of a Suspected Abuse Response Team exam conducted on the victim after she reported the incident. She testified the findings included physical evidence of DeAnda-Vargas penetrating her, but the findings were struck from the record, as the actual exam results were not available for review. Presiding judge Gary Medvigy decided there was enough evidence to conduct a trial and posted bail at $300,000.

DeAnda-Vargas and the woman were reported to have had one prior incident. She said that at a Big Lots several days before the incident, DeAnda-Vargas touched her buttocks without consent. After being asked to stop, DeAnda-Vargas complied. She did not file the incident.

“I thought he was my friend,” she said. “I didn’t think he would hurt me.”

A pre-trial confirmation hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28, followed by a jury trial Oct. 5 at Santa Rosa Superior Court.