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Man Faces Trial in Alleged Rape of Cal Lutheran Student

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former Cal Lutheran University student was ordered Friday to stand trial on six felony charges for allegedly raping another student in a dormitory at the Thousand Oaks campus last fall.

Alejandro Castaneda, 18, will also be tried on misdemeanor sexual battery charges for allegedly fondling a second female student in a dorm hallway two weeks before the alleged rape.

Castaneda has denied attacking either of the women.

During a preliminary hearing in Ventura County Superior Court, defense attorney Barry O. Bernstein argued the fondling incident didn’t rise to the level of a crime.

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As for the alleged rape, Bernstein said the sex was consensual and tried to persuade Judge James P. Cloninger to dismiss the charges entirely.

But Cloninger, while acknowledging discrepancies in the testimony of one of the women, found enough evidence to support the charges and ordered Castaneda held on $100,000 bail until trial.

The victim of the alleged sexual battery, identified only as Jane Doe No. 2, testified she and Castaneda lived in the same dorm, on either side of a courtyard.

On the night of Sept. 28, Castaneda cornered the woman in a darkened hallway and tried to kiss her, she said. The woman told the judge she told Castaneda to stop when he tried to fondle her.

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At one point a resident advisor, an older student who supervises the dorm, walked by, she said. The woman said she didn’t report the incident and returned to her room, escorted by the defendant who tried one last time to kiss her.

The woman said she didn’t believe the incident was serious enough to report to police, but she later told another resident advisor about it and the advisor called authorities.

The victim of the alleged rape, an 18-year-old freshman known as Jane Doe No. 1, said she was drinking beer with the defendant and other students on a hillside near campus two weeks later.

After a security guard shooed them away, she and Castaneda walked to his dorm room to use a bathroom, the woman said.

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Explaining that she was “really, really drunk,” the witness said the next thing she remembers is waking up in Castaneda’s bed with her clothes partly removed.

She testified Castaneda forced her to have sex, even after she told him to stop.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, it will be fine.’ He told me not to tell anybody,” she said.

She testified that at some point a male student walked into the bedroom, then turned around and left. Later, she awoke to find herself alone in the room and returned to her room. She said she was too embarrassed to report the incident for six days.

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“I was scared and ashamed,” she said.

But Bernstein argued the woman was never raped and called her two roommates to testify about contradictions in the woman’s story. Both roommates told the judge her story had changed so many times that they went to the Sheriff’s Department in Thousand Oaks to talk to a detective about it.

One roommate said the witness was embarrassed about having sex with Castaneda and worried aloud to her friends that “it’s going to look bad.”

Castaneda will return to court Feb. 4, when a judge will set a trial date.

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