SRJC sexual assault suspect released from custody


Zane Zinkl

The upstairs men’s bathroom in Mahoney Library on Petaluma campus where the alleged incident took place.

Zane Zinkl, Staff Writer

The Sonoma County Jail released Santa Rosa Junior College student Brandon Cortes, arrested on charges of sexual assault, battery and sodomy on March 14, after prosecutors announced they would not file charges in a hearing on April 15.

At the time of the hearing there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges, according to Sonoma County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell.

The District Attorney’s office declined further comment as the investigation is ongoing.

Cortes’s defense attorney Paul Lozada also declined to comment, adding neither he nor Cortes would make any public statements on the case at this time.

Despite his release, the potential for future charges puts Cortes in legal limbo.

SRJC is still considering his case for possible disciplinary action at the academic level but has yet to make a formal statement.

Dr. Chong said all questions regarding the case should be directed to SRJC District Police Chief Robert Brownlee.

Brownlee reiterated that the investigation conducted by the Petaluma Police Department was still active.

“However, I can tell you the criminal justice system is a very complicated system,” he said.

He added that officers and departments can’t afford to “get over-invested” in particular cases and the next level prosecution was out of their hands.