Charges dropped against former Loyola exchange student in sexual battery case

Students+talk+outside+The+Boot+Bar+and+Grill+in+spring+of+2018.+The+charges+against+Carlos+Pena+Cifuentes%2C+who+was+arrested+in+connection+with+a+reported+sexual+battery+at+the+bar+in+the+fall%2C+have+been+dropped.+Photo+credit%3A+Hannah+Renton

Hannah Renton

Students talk outside The Boot Bar and Grill in spring of 2018. The charges against Carlos Pena Cifuentes, who was arrested in connection with a reported sexual battery at the bar in the fall, have been dropped. Photo credit: Hannah Renton

Erin Snodgrass

The Orleans Parish District Attorney has dropped the sexual battery charges against former Loyola exchange student, Carlos Peña Cifuentes.

Ken Daley, Orleans Parish District Attorney spokesman, said the charges were dropped because video evidence did not match the complaining witness’ original statement.

“Our screening process for this case included an extensive review of video evidence from inside the nightclub, which conflicted with statements the complaining witness made to police and failed to corroborate her version of events,” Daley said.

Loyola University Police Chief Todd Warren said he absolutely disagreed with the district attorney’s decision to drop the charges.

“I am appalled at his decision.” Warren said. “I have seen the video of it, and I think it absolutely corroborates her story.”

According to Daley, the district attorney’s office invited the witness to review the video evidence and discuss the inconsistencies.

“She declined and said she understood our position that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute this case,” Daley said.

Warren, who said he also watched the video evidence, said the parts of the video the district attorney is saying don’t corroborate the witness’ story, are not relevant to her claim.

“I saw the same things he saw, and in my professional opinion, they’re not relevant to the allegations, and anyone with any training in investigating and prosecuting these cases should know better,” Warren said.

According to court documents, the district attorney refused charges last week, on Jan. 24.

Cifuentes, originally from Madrid, Spain, was arrested in September in connection with a reported sexual battery at The Boot Bar and Grill.

Daley said he is not aware of any plans to pursue charges against the complaining witness for filing a potentially false police report.

In a statement to the press, Avery Pardee, Cifuentes’ lawyer said the district attorney’s office had “rightly” refused the charges. She also confirmed that Cifuentes had returned home to Spain.

“Carlos is completely innocent of the accusations previously reported in the press and looks forward to resuming his studies in Spain,” his lawyer said.

Pardee told The Maroon she thought Warren’s continued comments on the case were “irresponsible,” and “disappointing.”

“They represent a rush to judgement by Loyola Police Department,” Pardee said.