SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Former San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Will Rodriguez-Kennedy said today allegations in a newly filed lawsuit asserting he raped another man were disproven by an audio recording indicating a consensual encounter between the men on the night of the alleged attack.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Thursday contends he was raped by Rodriguez-Kennedy in August 2021.
When the allegations first surfaced in May, Rodriguez-Kennedy denied the claims and subsequently announced that he was taking a leave of absence as the party's chair.
The lawsuit's filing came about a week after Rodriguez-Kennedy issued a statement indicating the San Diego County District Attorney's Office had
concluded a criminal investigation into the matter and decided it would not file charges. A District Attorney's Office spokeswoman confirmed that ``after a thorough review, we determined that no charges could be filed in this case.''
The lawsuit alleges that the men and others went out to several local bars on the night of Aug. 18, 2021, and by the end of the night, the alleged
victim was drunk and ``coerced'' by Rodriguez-Kennedy into going home with him.
The suit states he does not remember the trip to Rodriguez-Kennedy's home, nor going inside, due to his level of intoxication.
His next recollection was of Rodriguez-Kennedy allegedly raping him in the early morning hours of Aug. 19, the suit states.
A police report attached with the lawsuit indicates the alleged victim spoke with San Diego police in March. The lawsuit states that he ``tried to
deal with the trauma on his own for several months until he sought advice from a college professor who advised (him) that he had been raped by Kennedy and that he should report the assault to the police.''
During a Friday morning news conference, Rodriguez-Kennedy and his attorneys said they provided the District Attorney's Office with an audio
recording of a consensual sexual encounter between he and his accuser, who Rodriguez-Kennedy described as an ex-boyfriend.
The police report and lawsuit state that the man remembers little until 3 a.m., when he awoke to being raped.
Rodriguez-Kennedy's attorneys contend the audio recording was made at about 1:30 a.m. and that metadata confirms it was recorded on that time and date.
In a statement, Rodriguez-Kennedy said the recording ``proves that there was mutual consent,'' that the accuser was ``an enthusiastic
participant,'' and the ``criminal accusation and civil complaint are based on a lie.''
Regarding the recording's admissibility in court because the alleged victim did not know he was being recorded, one of Rodriguez-Kennedy's
attorneys, Eugene Iredale, said an exception exists in California's eavesdropping laws if the recorder believes they are subject to potential
extortion. Iredale said Rodriguez-Kennedy had suspicions leading up to Aug. 19 that he might be falsely accused.
Another of Rodriguez-Kennedy's attorneys, Marlea Dell'Anno, said they attempted to present the recording to the accuser's attorney, Dan Gilleon,
prior to the lawsuit's filing, but received no reply.
Gilleon, in response, denied that the attorneys reached out to him and rejected the idea that his client could consent due to his intoxicated state.
``He could not consent. They have no evidence he was sober,'' Gilleon told City News Service.
Dell'Anno said the recording was part of other evidence the defense team had that would show ``Mr. Rodriguez-Kennedy's complete and total innocence in this matter'' and that the lawsuit is ``frivolous on its face.'' The attorneys declined to elaborate on what other evidence they had, other than witnesses they said would testify that the accuser was not intoxicated that night.
Gilleon said there is another witness to the event who can confirm that his client was heavily intoxicated.
The attorney also said that despite Rodriguez-Kennedy's attorneys' claims that his recording falls under an exception to the state's eavesdropping
laws, the recording is illegal. Gilleon says he intends to amend his lawsuit to add another cause of action related to the surreptitious recording.
Gilleon said, ``This guy committed a crime to defend himself from a worse crime.''
The lawsuit also names San Diego City Council member Stephen Whitburn as a defendant. Whitburn is not accused of any assault, but instead of failing to prevent the alleged rape. The lawsuit alleges Whitburn lived at the residence where the incident occurred, saw the alleged victim was intoxicated, and should have known that an assault was likely to happen if he did not intervene.
Attorneys representing Whitburn could not immediately be reached for comment.
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