Was it rape?

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Saturday, February 8, 2014


WAS it rape, extortion or both? Who speaks the truth?

Actor, comedian and host Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro has been accused of rape. He denies this charge and alleges he is a victim of extortion.

On Jan. 17, upon the invitation of model Deniece Cornejo, Navarro says he makes his first visit to her condo at Forbeswood Heights.

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Navarro claims no sexual intercourse took place but Cornejo performed oral sex on him.

On January 22, he gets invited back to her condo. According to Navarro, after he sets some food down at a table, Cornejo suddenly steps out of the condo unit. Soon after, two men enter the condo unit. Navarro is then blindfolded, tied up and mauled. More men later follow to participate in the attack.

At gunpoint, Navarro says he was compelled to admit while being videotaped that he had raped Cornejo. The men who attacked him, led by 44-year old married businessman Cedric Lee whose relationship with the 22-year Cornejo seems questionable, threatened to kill his family if he did not do as they asked—not to shout or seek help, submit to a blotter at the police station for the crime of rape and pay up to a tune of P1M.

Cedric Lee tells another story. He claims that on the night of the 22nd, while walking towards the condo unit of Cornejo, he heard screams. In his words, “luckily, the door of the unit was unlocked” so he walked in and found Navarro on top of Cornejo. He and a friend haul Navarro away from Cornejo and beat him up as punishment. He says that the P1M they demanded was to pay for damage to the condo during the melee.

Here is what the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage at the condo revealed that evening. At 10:38, Navarro is seen entering the building. At 10:40, Cornejo is seen leaving the building. At 10:41, Lee is seen entering the building. Several men follow shortly.

Presumably, all the men are now at Cornejo’s condo unit with Navarro. But all this time, Cornejo is outside the building.

Minutes pass. Cedric Lee and his sister, Bernice Lee are then seen leaving the building and then entering the building once more, this time bringing with them Cornejo. Presumably, Lee, his sister and Cornejo return to the condo unit. Next CCTV footage at the elevator shows Navarro surrounded by all the personalities involved in this case. They then exit the building.

The CCTV footage supports Navarro’s account of events and belies Cedric Lee’s. Could Navarro have raped Cornejo in less than 2 minutes? CCTV footage shows Cornejo (after exiting her condo unit) fixing herself in a normal fashion. She calmly leaves the building. She does not seek help from anyone. She certainly did not act like a rape victim fleeing the scene of a crime.

Cedric Lee’s claims of seeing Navarro on top of Cornejo is improbable. CCTV footage shows that Cornejo had already exited the building when Lee entered it. Only Navarro was left in the condo unit.

Was it rape, extortion or both? Here are some things we are sure of. Lee and cohorts are guilty of committing serious physical injuries. And Navarro is seriously guilty of infidelity. Beyond these, the logical thing for non-lawyers like us would be to use our common sense.

(Email: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 09, 2014.

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