Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sounders FC's Montero won't face criminal charges

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has declined to file criminal charges against Sounders FC soccer star Fredy Montero, citing insufficient evidence to support an Eastside woman's claim that he had raped her.

By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has declined to file criminal charges against Sounders FC soccer star Fredy Montero, citing insufficient evidence to support an Eastside woman's claim that he raped her in March.

In a report to Bellevue police, a copy of which was released this morning to The Seattle Times, prosecutors said a review of the police investigation revealed contradictory behavior by the woman toward Montero and a lack of witnesses or physical evidence to back up her accusations.

"While the word of one person against another may be sufficient by itself to justify the filing of a charge, in this case [the woman's] account is severely compromised by her own descriptions of the events, her actions toward [Montero] during the week intervening the sexual contacts, and the lack of corroborative evidence that should exist given [her] account of events," the report concluded.

The 23-year-old woman had reported to Bellevue police that Montero, 21, had raped her at his condominium and then later stalked her.

Reached by phone Tuesday, the alleged victim said she was "devastated" and could not understand how the prosecutors came to the decision.

Montero's agent said that the allegations were false and stemmed from Montero's efforts to end a dating relationship with the woman.

Montero continued to practice with Sounders FC during the investigation, although he missed the team's April 4 match against Toronto.

"I am excited to return my complete attention to scoring goals for the people of Seattle and making the Sounders FC a very successful club," Montero said in a statement released Tuesday by Sounders FC.

Said an unidentified team spokesman in a statement: "We are pleased with the decision from the prosecutor's office and look forward to putting this behind us and focusing on soccer."

According to documents released Tuesday by Satterberg's office and the Bellevue Police Department, a friend of the woman, who is employed by Sounders FC, had approached the 23-year-old about possibly doing some work as an interpreter and translator for the club's Spanish-speaking players.

The woman, who had lived in Colombia and speaks Spanish fluently, told police that she met Montero when they went out to a nightclub with several others on March 14. After the club closed, they all went to Montero's town house in Factoria to continue the party.

Another woman, who met the group that evening for the first time, was invited as well.

One of Montero's teammates and another woman told police that they saw Montero and the 23-year-old kissing. The teammate told police it looked to him like the 23-year-old was "happy."

The 23-year-old woman told police later, however, that Montero was sexually aggressive with her, and kept trying to get her to have sex with him, urging her to drink heavily and even locking her in a bathroom with him. She said he tried to force her to have sex, but she fought his advances.

The prosecutor's report says, however, that she didn't report this incident to police until the third time they interviewed her. She later said "she didn't consider this rape since he stopped when she told him to stop," the prosecutors' report says.

"This failure to report, in and of itself, is significant in a case of this nature," the prosecution report said.

She said that she decided to sleep at Montero's house because she was too drunk to drive, so she slept on the floor next to him. When she awoke, she said, she found him on top of her having sex with her. According to the prosecutors' report, she told him no and he stopped.

The prosecutor's report says witnesses later told police that she had been offered a ride home that night but she declined, and instead went willingly to Montero's bedroom and slept under a blanket with him.

"Thus, the evidence would suggest that [she] chose to spend the night and did so in [Montero's] bedroom," the report said.

She left the house the next day, according to reports, but discovered later that she had left a necklace at his house.

She told police that she texted him or called him several times during the week to ask about her necklace, but he never texted back.

The prosecutor's report says the record of the messages shows she repeatedly sent him friendly messages, including photos of the two together at the nightclub. One of the photos showed Montero kissing her on the cheek. She also wished him luck on an upcoming soccer match, added him as a "friend" on her Facebook account, and at one point invited Montero out to a bar, but he didn't respond.

Then on March 22, the reports say, Montero called her around 2:30 a.m. on March 22 to tell her that he had found her necklace and invited her over.

She told police that she went back against her better judgment because one of his teammates would be there as well.

At some point, the teammate left and the woman claims that Montero dragged her up the stairs, removed her clothes and raped her while she cried for help.

The 16-year-old son of Montero's host family, who was also spending the night there as a friend of Montero's teenage brother, told police he did not hear any screams or cries. Other witnesses to the encounters also told police they heard no screaming or fighting, the prosecutors' report say.

Montero was arrested by Bellevue police on March 22 and released after surrendering his passport.

The woman also alleged that Montero stalked her when she saw him in a car with his host father a week after the alleged rape, but investigators concluded that the sighting was coincidental after talking with the host family.

The 23-year-old woman's family said they went to the media with the allegations after the Major League Soccer club announced that Montero wouldn't be traveling to Toronto with the team because he had the flu.

Information from Seattle Times reporters Ian Ith and José Miguel Romero is included in this report.

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