Jury deliberates sexual assault case

A jury was in deliberations Monday in the case of a cannery worker accused of sexually assaulting his female coworker.

Rosendo Pallones, 40, of Palmer, is charged with three separate counts of first-degree sexual assault last July at the Snug Harbor Seafoods cannery in Kenai.

Pallones waived his right to testify Monday before the jury went into deliberation.

The sexual assault kit performed on the alleged victim was not tested, so a heavier focus fell on circumstantial evidence surrounding the case. Many details were debated, from wall thickness between the rooms and how quickly Pallones left the cannery that night, to the woman’s relationship with him and why he was invited into her room in the first place.

Attorneys argued that it came down to a question of consent and whether it was withdrawn before or after the alleged sexual assault took place.

In closing arguments, District Attorney Kelly Lawson said the consent for a sexual encounter was never there, though the woman maintained a friendly demeanor with Pallones while she laughed off his advances as the night progressed.

Lawson maintained that the woman had made it clear to Pallones that he did not have her consent long before her roommate walked back into the room after a short absence. She referred to his original interview, encouraging the jury to review it during deliberation.

“He didn’t say ‘I stopped when she asked me the first time,’” Lawson said.

According to an affidavit, which details the interview between Pallones and an investigator, Pallones told the investigator the woman was crying and “kept telling (him) ‘no.’”

Andy Pevehouse, defense attorney for Pallones, argued that, at the time of the alleged incident, Pallones had been acting under what he perceived to be consent. That consent was only withdrawn, Pevehouse told the jury, after the woman’s roommate walked into the room, at which point Pallones claims he did stop.

Pevehouse maintained that it is not breaking the law if a man “begins an act thinking he has a green light,” finds out it’s a “red light” and then ceases the act.

Pevehouse also brought up inconsistencies between the alleged victim’s testimony in court and testimony before a grand jury months earlier, as well as inconsistencies between her account of her relationship with Pallones prior to the night of the incident and the accounts given by several witnesses.

He pointed out that, in interviews leading up to the trial, the woman had been giggling, laughing off the subject matter and in other ways not appearing to take the matter seriously.

“We’re certainly not here to say that sexual assault is funny,” Pevehouse said in closing. “What I am here to say is that you have to look at … the evolution of the story. I submit that you should be suspicious; you should wonder why she’s reacting that way.”

If convicted, Pallones faces a sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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