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Bail denied: Former UVa grad student accused of rape in 3 jurisdictions must remain in jail

The former University of Virginia graduate student accused of three sexual assaults, including two local rape charges, was denied bail after the latest charge lodged against him.

Derek Rodriguez-Contreras, 22, learned Monday that his visit to Charlottesville General District Court would be his closest brush with freedom for a while.

“My primary concern is the safety to the community,” said Judge Andrew Sneathern. “The bottom line for me is that I have allegations of three different instances in three different jurisdictions, so I’m not going to set a bond at this time.”

Rodriguez-Contreras faces multiple charges in multiple jurisdictions. The judge seemed confused about the timeline of arrests and charges, until the attorney for the accused clarified it. Although the most recent arrest came April 21, it actually is the oldest of the three incidents.

“This happened over a year ago,” Anthony Martin said.

Sneathern was unmoved. Ditto for prosecutor Susan Baumgartner, who suggested that Rodriguez-Contreras might try to flee.

“As these charges stack up, how likely is he to stay in town?” asked Baumgartner. “He has no ties to the Charlottesville area except for UVa, and he has been suspended from UVa.”

Martin, making a motion for bail, said that Rodriguez-Contreras has his name on a lease at an Albemarle County apartment and still has friends at UVa who routinely attend his legal proceedings, though none seemed present in the courtroom Monday.

“We understand the charge is serious,” said Martin.

The recent arrest came three days after after Martin successfully got the young man’s HEI, or home electronic incarceration, modified by the Albemarle County Circuit Court. Formerly barred from having any female visitors, Rodriguez-Contreras won permission April 18 for his mother and sister, who live in New York, to visit him at his apartment.

Baumgartner revealed a previously undisclosed detail from the first arrest, which took place in Rodriguez-Contreras’ hometown of New York City. She said that he persisted so strenuously in some “unwanted touching” at a bar on the Lower East Side that police were promptly beckoned.

Both sides noted that the two local allegations stemmed from Rodriguez-Contreras’ romantic pursuits.

“These were both women that he had flirtatious relationships with,” said Baumgartner.

Rodriguez-Contreras’ lawyer gave a hint of a possible defense in the courtroom Monday when he revealed that one of the local women lodging accusations sent a morning-after message in response to a Rodriguez-Contreras entreaty for romance.

“Yeah, I’m sorry I messed with that,” one of the women allegedly told him by text.

Rodriguez-Contreras is slated to stand trial on rape, malicious wounding and sexual battery charges in Albemarle County court beginning July 8.


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