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Wednesday, October 28, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Second Grand Jury Indicts Suspect In Condom Rape Case

Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN, Texas - An Austin woman last month persuaded a knife-wielding intruder to wear a condom and, largely because of that undisputed fact, a grand jury declined to indict the man she says raped her.

In the uproar that ensued, the Travis County district attorney resubmitted the case to another grand jury, which indicted Joel Rene Valdez yesterday on charges of aggravated sexual assault and burglary with intent to commit sexual assault.

The case has sent shock waves not just through Austin, where more than 100 demonstrators held a rally at the county courthouse, but across the nation.

The implication in the age of AIDS is that if a woman has the presence of mind to protect herself, then she is doubly victimized by those who misconstrue her action as consent, rape-crisis counselors said.

"It was protecting herself from further harm," said Sue James, director of the Dallas County Rape Crisis Center. "It in no way negates that this man made an illegal entry into her house and threatened her with a knife."

James said she has not heard of a similar case but is alarmed by the implications.

"What difference does it make when a stranger holds a knife to your throat? What does all this other periphery stuff mean? I'm just shocked," she said.

The woman's attorney, Mark Mueller, said he has been inundated with calls from around the nation.

"It's just become a media spectacle. People are protesting. It's become a political hot potato for the district attorney's office," he said.

The case began Sept. 17, when a 25-year-old artist returned from a party to her apartment about 2:45 a.m. "She went upstairs, was getting ready for bed and saw this guy in the hallway. He had a knife. She screamed," Mueller said.

She slammed the bedroom door, latched it and began calling 911, but Valdez - who all sides agree was intoxicated - broke down the door and knocked the phone out of her hand, Mueller said. Threatening her with the knife, "he ordered her to take his pants off," Mueller said. "Just about that time, the conversation about the condom came up.

"She said, `If you're going to rape me, I want you to use the condom because I don't want to die of AIDS.' He said, `I don't have AIDS,' and she said, `How do you know I don't?' " Mueller said.

She got a condom and placed it on him and then he assaulted her, Mueller said.

Mueller said the woman tried to escape, but Valdez followed her with a knife. Finally, when he set the knife down after about an hour, she fled naked to a neighbor's apartment to call the police.

Valdez, who lived in the apartment complex, was arrested the next day.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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