Prosecutors on Friday dropped sexual assault charges against two boys accused in an April incident at Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall.
Judge Nan Cohan Jacobs approved the motion to dismiss the charges against the boys, ages 14 and 15, at the request of Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Owen.
"We would not be able to prove the case," Owen said, citing a lack of evidence and conflicting statements the alleged victim gave when reporting a subsequent attack, also in juvenile hall.
The two defendants, who live in Modesto, had been charged with two counts of sodomy. They denied the allegations through their attorneys. The alleged victim lives in Stanislaus County. The Bee is not naming the individuals in the case.
The alleged victim said he was sexually assaulted between 10:30 p.m. and midnight April 23 in a cell the three boys shared.
Owen said the alleged victim, a 17-year-old identified in court as John Doe, was released to the custody of his parents after reporting April 24 that his roommates had attacked him. After violating conditions of his release, he was put on an electronic monitor. He failed to show up for a May 17 court date; his parents said he had left home without permission. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
The 17-year-old was arrested May 20 and booked at juvenile hall, where he was given a single cell. On May 22, staff found him lying on his bed covered with blood, which also was smeared on the walls and toilet.
"He was nonresponsive and had a small cut on his scalp," Owen said. Staff called an ambulance to take the boy to the hospital, where he fought with paramedics and tried to escape. He was treated and released back to juvenile hall.
On May 25, the teen complained of another sexual assault.
"He said unknown staff members opened the door and let two minors in," Owen said.
The boy gave conflicting statements and inconsistent descriptions of his attackers.
The events led prosecutors to believe they could not get a conviction. The case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that if authorities uncover further evidence, they can refile charges later.
"I see the big smile on your face," the judge told one of the defendants. "And right now, you're in the clear."
But she explained that the case still could go forward, and the defendants still face the charges for which they originally were booked. The boy said he understood.
Outside court, the alleged victim's father said he believes his son, and that the later allegations stemmed from him reliving the original assault.
"His therapist told us that would happen," the father said, adding that the family has its own investigator looking into the case.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.