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Charge Magistrate Rodriguez with rape, says DPP to police

HeadlineCharge Magistrate Rodriguez with rape, says DPP to police

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 4, 2017–Yesterday, Amandala asked Senior Superintendent of Police Ralph Moody, the Southern Formation Regional Commander, for an update into the police’s investigation of a report made by a 27-year-old woman that she was raped by Magistrate Norman Rodriguez when she visited him at his home on the morning of April 11.

Superintendent Moody told Amandala that “something will happen this week.”

Today, Thursday, Superintendent Moody confirmed that the directive to arrest and charge Magistrate Rodriguez with rape was given by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

We asked Moody if an All Points Bulletin (APB) will be issued for the magistrate, who is presently out of the country.

Moody told our newspaper tonight that Magistrate Rodriguez, who is expected to report back to work on Monday, will be arrested and charged by Tuesday.

Rodriguez’s run-in with the law came as a shocker to his fellow judicial officers, since this is the first time that a sitting magistrate will be criminally charged for such a serious offense as rape, which carries a minimum penalty of 8 years in prison upon conviction.

Norman Charles Rodriguez, 47, was a teacher at Excelsior High School from 1992 to 2005, when he retired to care for his ailing father, Porfilio Rodriguez, who died in 2006.

Rodriguez worked at the Belize City Council under Mayor Zenaida Moya as an administrative officer in charge of protocol.

Rodriguez subsequently went on to earn a law degree from the University of Guyana in 2012. Last September Rodriguez earned his Certificate in Legal Education and was appointed to the Magistracy the following month, October 2016. Rodriguez has a 5-year bond with the Government of Belize.

We asked Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith if Rodriguez would be placed on interdiction pending the outcome of his criminal case, after he is arraigned in court. Smith told us that the Judicial Services Legal Commission (JSLC) is the body that would determine Rodriguez’s fate. The JSLC is chaired by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.

Last Wednesday, April 26, Amandala travelled to Dangriga in search of the woman who made the complaint to police.

After finding the virtual complainant, the Amandala reporter agreed to sign a non-disclosure form, provided by a friend of the woman, who contacted her before she agreed to give us an interview.

The woman, who admitted to having been in a live-in relationship with Rodriguez five years ago, told Amandala that Magistrate Rodriguez called her and wanted to talk to her.

“I told him that I was at work and he told me to ask for a break so I could meet him at his house to talk. He told me to text him when I was leaving. So I got a ride from my boss and texted him, telling him that I was leaving,” the complainant said.

The woman said that when she arrived at the house, located in front of Alejo Beni Park, Rodriguez was already there — “and he opened the gate for me,” she said.

We asked the woman at what time the meeting took place.

“Around 10:00 a.m. [on April 11],” she replied. “He had to adjourn a case that he was doing.”

“When I went inside the house, I sat down with my phone in my hand. He told me to put down the phone. I was slowly putting down the phone when he told me ‘come here,’” the woman said.

“I told him I no want no sex. He said ‘at least do one thing for me’. I said I no want no sex. So he grabbed my hand and then he pulled me towards him. He pulled me towards him and fired a kiss at me, but the same time I moved my face, but he held my cheeks with his hand and pulled it toward his face,” she recounted.

“When he did that I haul away my face and he pulled it back and then he held me and walked back way toward the bedroom. I told him I no want no sex, but he pulled me on the bed, took off my clothes and had sex with me. The reason I never fight with him is because he told me that he is an attorney and now he is a magistrate, and nobody can’t do him nothing,” the woman said, as the tears welled up in her eyes.

Amandala asked the woman why it took her five days after the incident to report to the police.

“Because he always di send me the texts, saying that he is a magistrate and nobody can’t do him nothing,” the woman responded.

“But on Sunday, when my brother called me and told me that he and Norman di come eat, I said he is taking it too far, because da my money buy the food. So I decided to put it in the hands of the police,” the woman said.

Last Thursday, April 27, Amandala called Magistrate Rodriguez to ask him what he had to say about the complaint to the police against him.
The magistrate, however, told us: “I cannot make any comment, because the police are still investigating. I have to let the police do their work.”

Magistrate Rodriguez, however, added, “I have no idea what the complaint is that the police are investigating.”

Notwithstanding his professed lack of knowledge of why the police are investigating him, Amandala can confirm that last Wednesday and Thursday, Magistrate Rodriguez sought legal advice from two attorneys before he left the country.

In October 2005, a jury of one man and eight women deliberated for two and a half hours, before returning a not guilty verdict in the trial of the then teacher Norman Rodriguez, who had been indicted on 3 counts of unlawful carnal knowledge.

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