A 31-year-old man sexually assaulted two cousins over a six-year period in Corona and Rancho Santa Margarita area, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday while the defendant’s attorney said the girls are lying and there is no corroborating evidence.
Roger Seymour Pena is charged with eight counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14, a count of aggravated sexual assault of a child younger than 14 and a count of aggravated sexual assault of a child with a foreign object, all felonies.
Pena was seven years older than one of the alleged victims, who was 11 at the time of the first instances of molestation in October 2005, Deputy District Attorney Michael Carroll said. The two were living in Ecuador at the time, Carroll said.
The two were playing “truth or dare” when he allegedly kissed the victim, Carroll said. The victim’s family moved to Corona in January 2006, Carroll said.
The defendant and the alleged victim were living in the same home when he would have her come to his bedroom and “dry hump” her, Carroll said.
“The touching continued to escalate to digital penetration and then sexual intercourse,” Carroll said.
The victim believed she was in a “boyfriend-girlfriend relationship,” but she “broke it off” before her senior year in high school when “she realized it was weird and not OK,” Carroll said.
A relative of the alleged victim is expected to testify that when she was 6 years old Pena tried to kiss her, Carroll said. Pena is not charged in connection with that allegation, but she is expected to testify to show a pattern, Carroll said.
Another relative of the defendant said she was sexually assaulted in the summer of 2012 during a sleepover at another family member’s home, Carroll said.
Pena, who slept next to the girl, asked her to do a lewd thing and she refused, Carroll said. At some point during the night the defendant “got on top” of the alleged victim and forced himself on her, shushing her protests and telling her it was “OK” as he had sex with her, Carroll said.
“She doesn’t scream, she doesn’t yell out because she’s scared,” Carroll said. “She’s afraid of what this would do to the family.”
She kept the attack to herself until 2015 when she confessed what happened to a steady boyfriend, who she later married, Carroll said. Then the victim told the other alleged victim because she had heard rumors over some time about an inappropriate relationship she may have had with the defendant, Carroll said.
The alleged victims went to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Rancho Santa Margarita in January 2016 with the allegations, Carroll said.
“Her fear of not being believed by the family comes true,” Carroll said.
The allegations caused a schism in the family, Carroll said.
One family member allegedly sent a text to one of the alleged victims advising her that, “You messed with the wrong person (expletive),” Caroll said, adding the text also read, “You better pack your bags because you’re going to get deported.”
Pena’s attorney, Cameron Talley, said the defendant’s family legally emigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador in 1984.
When the victims’ family emigrated here the two families initially lived in the same home in Ontario before moving together to Corona, Talley said.
“So far, so good, they were all getting along,” Talley said.
But tensions developed when some of the parents, who were in the tax preparation business, got into a workplace dispute, Talley said. So the victims’ family moved to Rancho Santa Margarita, Talley said.
One of the alleged victims had a “school girl crush” on Pena and the two spent a lot of time together, Talley said.
Talley claimed that one of the alleged victims made sensational allegations when being questioned by investigators.
“She said she had sex with Roger 300 times” over a four year period, Talley said.
“In these houses where everybody is living there and yet nobody saw it,” Talley said.
One of the alleged victims said she never told anyone about the allegations over the years, but another family member said the victim told her she lost her virginity to Pena when she was 11, Talley said.
“The evidence is going to show it didn’t happen,” Talley said, adding the alleged victims had “tons of inconsistencies” in their stories.
“These are self-sustaining allegations,” Talley said. “The other evidence the prosecution will put on is zero, zip, nada.”
Talley also claimed that one of the alleged victims and her father went to three law enforcement offices asking, “Can we make this all go away.”