Actor Vhong Navarro swears by his testimony, accusing Cedric Lee and company of beating him up on the night of January 22, during his appearance at the Department of Justice on February 6. Photo: ABS-CBN News
MANILA (UPDATED) - Another rape complaint was filed by a woman on Wednesday against Vhong Navarro amid the controversy involving the actor-host and model Deniece Cornejo, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her.
The rape charge was filed around 4 p.m. at the Pasig City Prosecutor's Office by the alleged victim and her legal counsel, Atty. Virgilio Batalla.
In a phone interview on "Aquino and Abunda Tonight" on Wednesday night, Batalla said the alleged rape took place in 2010.
"Ang biktima po ng rape ay may 20 taon para mag-file ng kaso. At ang kliyente ko ay 4 na taon lamang (pagkatapos noong nangyari), kaya hindi gaano katagal iyon," the lawyer said.
Asked by host Kris Aquino how he came to be the alleged victim's legal counsel, Batalla said, "Ako po ang chairman ng Lingap Pinoy Foundation na nagbibigay ng libreng abugado sa mga taong nangangailangan lalo na sa mga walang kakayahan."
"Lumapit po sa akin ang biktimang ito dahil siya ay nagkaroon ng lakas ng loob dahil sa mga nangyayari, iyong pangyayari na may nagsampa kay Vhong Navarro ng rape. Dahil nakita niya na puwede palang mangyari ito nang paulit-ulit sa ibang babae katulad niya," he said, referring to the case of Cornejo.
Cornejo filed a rape complaint against Navarro last January 29.
In her affidavit, she claimed that the actor forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to insert his penis in her vagina on January 22, the night the group of businessman Cedric Lee allegedly came to her rescue.
Navarro denied this, saying he was set up by Cornejo for an extortion attempt allegedly led by Lee. The actor said he was blindfolded, tied up and attacked by at least six men inside Cornejo's condominium unit in Taguig.
The actor has since filed six criminal charges against Cornejo and Lee's group: serious physical injuries, grave threat, grave coercion, unlawful arrest, blackmail, and serious illegal detention, which is a non-bailable offense.
Lee, in a January 28 interview on radio DZMM, claimed that several other women aside from Cornejo were willing to come forward and say that Navarro also molested them.
Asked by host Boy Abunda if he knows of ties between his client and Lee, Batalla said, "Wala po akong alam."
Noting he cannot disclose his client's name without her consent, the lawyer added, "Ang kaso po ay nakasampa na at kami po ay naghihintay ng tamang proseso ng batas para magbigay ng detalye sa kasong ito."
Navarro's camp expected new case
Navarro's lawyer, however, downplayed the new rape complaint.
"Gusto lang namin sabihin na kahit naman sino ay puwede mag-kaso. Ang tanong ay kaya mo ba patunayan iyung paratang? May ebidensya ka ba?" Atty. Alma Mallonga said in a separate interview on "Aquino and Abunda Tonight."
She said the filing was "not unexpected."
Mallonga questioned the motive and timing of the new complaint.
"Some weeks ago, Cedric (was) saying that he's been talking to some women and I understand that his lawyer has said na mayroon silang pasabog," Mallonga revealed.
"Hindi kami nagulat kasi intindi pa nga namin that this is just the first of others," she added.
Mallonga also responded to speculation that the new case was inspired by Cornejo's allegations against the actor.
"If you're saying that you were inspired by the rape complaint of Deniece, alam na natin na hindi iyun nangyari. Impossible dahil nakita natin sa ating dalawang mata na hindi iyon nangyari, that you cannot rape who was not there. You cannot witness a rape when the victim is not even there," she said.
Mallonga said Navarro is aware of the new case and the actor is keen on facing the charges and proving his innocence.
"This has made him more determined to see this thing through," she said.
The Department of Justice's second hearing on the cases filed by Navarro and Cornejo is scheduled on February 21. -- with a report by Vince Garcia, ABS-CBNNews.com