Sunday, 28 May 2017

Lawyer Arrested For Allegedly Telling Rape Victim She’d Be Deported If She Testified

A Baltimore attorney was indicted Tuesday for allegedly pressuring a rape victim not to testify against his client, in part by threatening her with deportation.
Christos Vasiliades, 39, is accused of telling the woman and her husband that they would likely be deported if they showed up in court and offering them $3,000 from the defendant in exchange for not testifying.
The Maryland state indictment, first published by the Baltimore Sun, charges Vasiliades and Edgar Ivan Rodriguez, who acted as a Spanish-language interpreter for the woman and her husband, with obstruction of justice and witness intimidation by threat and corrupt means. (The couple’s names are blacked out in the public version of the indictment.)
Vasiliades was arrested on Tuesday and arraigned on Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty and prosecutors “agreed to release him under pretrial supervision,” said Raquel Guillory Coombs, public information officer at the Maryland Attorney General’s office.
The lawyer represents Mario Aguilar-Delossantos, who is facing felony rape charges. According to the indictment, Vasiliades contacted the woman and her husband on April 11 to meet and talk because he said his client’s case had become “more complicated.” 
During the meeting, Vasiliades allegedly pointed to the Trump administration’s ramped-up immigration efforts and warned the couple that they would risk deportation if they testified in court. In a follow-up meeting on May 18, the woman allegedly wore a device that recorded Vasiliades and Rodriguez claiming that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was “looking at this case.” 
“You know how things are with Trump’s laws now; someone goes to court, and boom, they get taken away,” Rodriguez said, according to the court documents. 
Vasiliades and Rodriguez allegedly offered the woman and her husband $3,000 in exchange for their silence. If the couple failed to show up in court, Vasiliades said he could get the case thrown out. Once that happened, the indictment said, the lawyer would alert Rodriguez, who would be waiting outside the courthouse to hand over the money. 
Afterward, the woman and her husband could seek out Aguilar-Delossantos and “kick his ass” themselves, Vasiliades allegedly suggested.
“If we were back home where I’m from, from Greece ... we would go f*ck him up, that’s it, if you want to do that, that’s fine,” the lawyer said, according to the indictment.
HuffPost reached out to Vasiliades for comment, but had not heard back from him at the time of publication. 
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh told Mic.com that Vasiliades and Rodriguez had tried to capitalize on the “climate of fear” created by the Trump administration’s immigration policies and an uptick in ICE raids across the country.
“This case, I think, illustrates the folly of that kind of policy,” Frosh said. “It takes an enormous amount of courage for a rape victim to step forward and report a rape, and it takes even more courage for somebody who might be deported to step forward and report a crime.” 

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