An Attorney In A Rape Case Is Accused Of Threatening To Have A Survivor Deported If She Testified

Senior Contributor
05.25.17

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One of the many issues the Trump administration’s attempt to step up deportation has raised is the issue of “chilled response,” or a failure on the part of vulnerable populations to contact the police about crimes because they believe they will be arrested instead. It’s easy to view this as an abstract argument, but a recent case in Baltimore underscores that it’s far more than some theory; some are even using it as a weapon.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Baltimore area defense attorney Christos Vasiliades attempted to convince the key witness in the rape trial of Mario Aguilar-Delosantos that she would be deported from the country if she testified:

They “explained that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would likely be present in the courtroom for their client … and cited new federal laws and policies and maintained there is a high risk that” they would be deported if they testified in court, according to the indictment. Vasiliades said his client was “very sorry and could offer compensation if they did not come to court and testify against him.”

If that weren’t enough, Vasiliades later suggested to the survivor’s husband that he beat up Aguilar-Delosantos as a form of justice, which, while some might argue is warranted, wouldn’t be justice in America. Unfortunately for Vasilades, his targets had called law enforcement, who set up a sting and recorded the threats. Vasilades was arrested on twelve counts.

While this arguably has a happy ending, at least in the sense that it was thwarted, there’s little question that this is happening elsewhere, and we’re not hearing about it. Undocumented immigrants face an even more difficult challenge than American citizens in having their attackers brought to justice, and the chilling effect the Trump administrations efforts have had are unlikely to have improved the situation. While some might argue being undocumented is a crime in of itself, it’s worth asking who you want off the streets more, the person without a visa, or the person sexually assaulting people.

(via The Baltimore Sun)

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