SC junks rape, acts of lasciviousness charges vs Vhong Navarro

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 13) — The Supreme Court's (SC) Third Division has dismissed the rape and acts of lasciviousness charges against television personality Vhong Navarro for lack of probable cause.

In a 43-page decision made public on Monday, the SC reversed and set aside the July and September 2022 rulings of the Court of Appeals (CA).

The high court said the “CA gravely erred” when it overturned the Department of Justice resolutions that dismissed the charges against Navarro and granted the appeal of model-stylist Deniece Cornejo, who claimed that the actor-host forced himself on her twice in 2014.

The ruling of the appeals court resulted in Navarro’s temporary detention at the National Bureau of Investigation before being transferred to the Taguig City jail in November last year. He was released in December after posting a ₱1-million bail

“Under the circumstances, the CA simply had no basis to reverse the prosecutor's finding of lack of probable cause. On the contrary, it is the CA that disregarded such parameters when it substituted its own judgment for that of the prosecutor's finding of lack of probable cause against Navarro,” it said.

The SC also noted that Cornejo’s accusations involved “glaring and manifest inconsistencies” that are “not trivial, minor, or inconsequential.”

“Indeed, no amount of skillful or artful deportment, manner of speaking, or portrayal in a subsequent court proceeding could supplant Cornejo's manifestly inconsistent and highly deficient, doubtful, and unclear accounts of her supposed harrowing experience in the hands of Navarro,” the decision read.

Cornejo alleged that on Jan. 22, 2014, Navarro pinned her down and attempted to rape her at her condominium in Taguig City.

In a subsequent complaint, the model claimed that Navarro had assaulted her once more on Jan. 17, 2014. A third complaint was also submitted, detailing the events of the two incidents.

Navarro also earlier accused Cornejo, along with the group of businessman Cedric Lee, of grave coercion for allegedly forcing him to falsely admit that he raped the model-stylist. He was also attacked by the group, leaving him with multiple injuries.

The 45-year-old celebrity has denied the accusations against him.