Thursday, July 22, 2010

Arguments today in case of Salinas priest accused of sexually assaulting teen

Arguments today in case of Salinas priest accused of sexually assaulting teen
A Monterey County judge this afternoon rescheduled a hearing for a Salinas priest accused of sexually assaulting a teenager.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Terrance Duncan was expected to rule whether certain evidence would be excluded in the case of the Rev. Antonio Cortes of St. Mary of the Nativity Church in Salinas following arguments by attorneys today.
The hearing was continued to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Eugene Martinez and Miguel Hernandez, defense lawyers for Cortes,are arguing against the admission of an external computer hard drive Salinas police have said contains child pornography used by the priest.
Cortes, 42, was ordered to stand trial on felony charges of sodomy with a minor and misdemeanor counts of possession of child pornography. He was placed on paid administrative leave after his arrest. His arrest came two days after a boy made the molestation claims to Salinas police.
Cortes’ lawyers are trying to get the hard drive excluded as evidence. They argue that it was wrongfully taken along with a laptop April 16, 2009, the day of the priest’s arrest, at the church office at 1702 Second Ave. The defendant's lawyers said it was illegally seized because the search warrant only covered Cortes' residence — the rectory across the street from the church's office, at 1747 Second Ave.

The prosecution argues that the seizure of the hard drive is legal, as the search warrant includes both Cortes' person and the rectory.

The motion to suppress evidence has included three days of hearings spread over seven months. Scheduling conflicts have led to wide gaps between court dates.

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