A Howard County jury acquitted a Prince George's County man last week on charges of raping a co-worker in the back room of a Columbia shoe store.
Jose Chaparro, 51, of Riverdale, who claimed that he had consensual sex with his accuser, was found guilty of battery. He was facing a charge of second-degree rape, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Battery is defined as the unlawful touching of another person andcarries a maximum sentence of 20 years. Chaparro will be sentenced June 16.
The 39-year-old woman who accused him testified that Chaparro attacked her in the back room of the shoe store at about 8:45 a.m. Nov. 9, before the store opened for business.
She said that Chaparro grabbed her from behind, held her hands behind her back with oneof his hands and had sexual intercourse with her.
Chaparro, a Colombian immigrant who came to this country 11 years ago, testified that he had consensual sex with the woman on two occasions prior to Nov.9.
During closing arguments, Chaparro's public defender, Antonio Lyons, questioned whether it would have been physically possible for his 5-foot-2 client to have restrained his accuser.
"It seems to me that a little bit of a struggle, a little bit of resistance could have prevented this," Lyons said.
He said he also found it odd thatthe woman continued to work for the entire day at the shoe store after the alleged attack.
After the verdict, Lyons said a juror told him that Chaparro was acquitted of rape because jurors believed that although the woman did not consent to sex, neither did she resist hisadvances.
The woman testified that she initially didn't tell anyone about
the attack because she wanted to forget about it and didn't think her employer would believe her.
It was at a psychiatric hospital, three days after the assault, that the woman first discussedthe incident with a nurse. The woman had been admitted to the hospital two days after the attack on the recommendation of a therapist.
She reported the incident to Howard County police on Nov. 16, after she was discharged from the hospital.
Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha said that the woman didn't immediately report the rape because she had blocked it out of her mind.
Murtha questioned the fact that Chaparro didn't mention his prior sexual relationship with the woman when he gave a voluntary confession to police.
"Why did he not tell police officers,'This is not the first time this has happened?' " Murtha asked. "He believes that what he did was not wrong, that he was entitled to do that."