Rape case dismissed because girl won’t testify
BRIDGEPORT — A local man charged with raping an autistic 9-year-old girl walked free from the court Thursday after the girl’s father refused to let his daughter testify.
Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin dismissed the charges of aggravated first-degree sexual assault with a child and illegal sexual contact against Victor Fernandez on a motion from Fernandez’s lawyer, Senior Assistant Public Defender Brad Buchta.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Ann Lawlor told the judge that the case was about to go to trial when the girl’s father told her he was not going to let his daughter testify.
Lawlor said the child is living with her father in Florida.
“I explained the ramification of her not coming in to testify,” the prosecutor said. She then asked the judge to issue a missing witness nolle. Under a nolle, the case can be prosecuted within 13 months before being dismissed.
However, Buchta argued that the girl is not missing. The judge then granted his motion to dismiss the case.
Police said the girl told a social worker that Fernandez, 42, a friend of her family, pulled her clothes off and “played sex with me.”
During a subsequent forensic interview at the Center for Family Justice, police said the girl was given two anatomically correct dolls and asked to show what happened. They said the girl took the dolls and faced them toward each other and simulated a conversation between them in which the male asked, “Could I have sex with you.”
The victim then told the interviewer, “He played sex with me…but then I screamed,” police said.