The testimony in the trial of a man accused of raping a Fort Hays State University student in 2015 began Monday afternoon in Ellis County District Court in front of a jury and District Judge Glenn Braun.
Fernando Cantero is charged with raping an FHSU student in September of last year in McMindes Hall on the school’s campus.
Cantero, an international student from Paraguay, was arrested a few days following the report of the alleged assault Sept. 20. The allegations were made to law enforcement Sept. 25. He made his first appearance in late September and was charged then with rape, aggravated criminal sodomy and aggravated burglary.
University Police Officer Joshua Fleenor was the state’s first person to testify under the examination of Crystalyn Oswald, assistant Ellis County attorney.
The reporting party, in an interview with Fleenor and approximately eight others, told of the night the alleged event took place. Under policy, Fleenor was accompanied by eight other officials during the initial interview days after the report.
Fleenor said the alleged victim said she had been at house parties in the area before returning to the residential hall. She said she later awoke to someone on top of her having sex with her.
He said reports by a sexual assault nurse examiner showed some signs of trauma to the genital area.
“It would be consistent (with a sexual assault),” Fleenor said the report showed.
Surveillance video in McMindes Hall showed Cantero and two other males getting on an elevator and riding it from the second floor to the fifth floor. Once on the floor, Cantero and one of the other males entered the female section of the dormitory.
The other male stayed in the lobby area.
Cantero allegedly began checking door handles to see which ones were unlocked. Fleenor said there were reports of others in the wing that had heard someone either entering their room or thinking that someone was trying to get inside their room.
Fleenor said when he interviewed the suspect, Cantero said he had been looking for his keys he had given to a friend and his girlfriend. He said the second interview with Cantero was difficult until an interpreter arrived to help with the language barrier.
“He stated he checked a few rooms, stated to us she motioned to him to come in,” Fleenor said. “He stated they started making out and then had sex.”
Fleenor said Cantero admitted to drinking alcohol that night but “remembered everything.”
In earlier testimony, Fleenor said the alleged victim had passed out from consuming alcohol before the assault happened and was in and out of consciousness.
He said the alleged victim didn’t get a good look at the perpetrator, and he had said nothing to her during the encounter except “shh.”
Fleenor said one of the few details the female could give was the type of watch he was wearing.
After Oswald wrapped up her questioning of Fleenor, Braun said the court would be in recess until Tuesday morning before cross-examination began by the defense.
Braun said the jury members selected already had a long day, noting jury selection began early Monday morning.