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Woman, 18, Says She Was Drugged and Gang-Raped

July 30, 2002|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An 18-year-old college student testified Monday that she was drugged and gang-raped by four San Fernando Valley men at her Simi Valley home earlier this year.

Eyeing her alleged attackers across the courtroom, the woman told a judge she became groggy and weak after drinking a glass of water allegedly spiked with the drug Ecstasy.

She said she heard one of the men tell his friends, "I think she's ready." Then she felt two men pick her up and drop her at the edge of her bed.

Thirty minutes later, she testified, she awoke to find one raping her and another trying to force her to orally copulate with him.

"I could hear people talking and laughing," the woman testified. "It was like I couldn't feel my body."

Jeffrey Pineda, Brian Jafari, Yan Karim, all 20, and Dejon Lee, 22, face charges of forcible gang rape, rape with the use of drugs, robbery and related allegations that could send each to prison for more than 40 years.

Attorneys for the four men, who were arrested by Simi Valley police about an hour after the alleged assault and are now free on $250,000 bail each, say their clients are innocent.

During a preliminary hearing that began Monday in Ventura County Superior Court, the defense tried to depict the Jan. 11 sexual encounter as consensual and suggested the victim was lying.

The woman, who was on the witness stand for several hours, repeatedly told Judge Donald Coleman that she never consented to sex with the defendants and did not agree to be drugged.

According to her testimony, the woman knew Pineda, a North Hollywood resident, and had invited him to the house in Simi Valley where she rented a room.

Pineda showed up with the co-defendants, residents of North Hollywood and Studio City, sometime after midnight, she said.

Although they had not been invited, the woman let Pineda's friends into the house, she testified. The men drank shots of rum in the kitchen, and she drank one shot and a glass of water, she said, and they all went upstairs to watch a movie in her bedroom.

About 20 minutes later, she testified, her vision became blurred and she began to feel weak. She told the judge she remembers Pineda saying, "I think she's ready," and then moving her to the end of the bed where someone removed her shirt.

That was at 3 a.m., she said, testifying that the next thing she remembers is glancing at the clock at 3:33 a.m. and realizing that two men were sexually assaulting her.

"I remember begging Jeff to make them stop," she said, telling the judge her pleas were ignored.

She testified that she remembers Pineda later congratulating and thanking her "for helping out his friends." She also said that before he left, Pineda told her she owed him $20 "for the Ecstasy they'd used."

Defense lawyers questioned the woman, who now lives out of state, late into Monday evening.

During a tense and emotional cross-examination, she admitted to once having sexual relations with Pineda, but denied that she intended to have sex with him or his friends that night.

At one point Monday, the woman acknowledged locking her bedroom door after the four men went inside. It was a detail defense lawyers seized on while challenging her credibility.

But the women insisted that it was not her intent to lock her two roommates out so she could engage in group sex.

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