MANILA - A local court has denied the motion to dismiss the grave coercion charges filed by actor-host Vhong Navarro against Cedric Lee, Deniece Cornejo and two others.
Metropolitan Trial Court of Taguig Branch 74 Judge Bernard Pineda Bernal said "there is probable evidence to sustain their indictment for the crime charged," citing evidence presented by the prosecution.
Accused were Lee, Cornejo, Sajed Fernandez Abbuhijlej, and Bernice Cua Lee.
In the order dated 25 August 2017, the court said it is now crucial for the four to "adduce evidence on their behalf to negate the allegations of the Prosecution.”
The court noted that the "It's Showtime" host filed the complaint because he had allegedly been forced, after being assaulted and detained in Cornejo's condominium unit, to admit to attempted rape by signing in a police blotter at the Southern Police District Station station where he was brought by the accused after his assault and detention.
Cornejo and Lee said Navarro failed to show evidence that they violently forced the TV host to sign the police blotter.
The prosecution, however, presented evidence, including CCTV footage showing Navarro entering the elevator on his way to Cornejo's unit and Cornejo entering the same elevator one minute later to prove that the supposed rape was "physically impossible.
In a statement through his lawyer, Navarro thanked the Department of Justice, who has taken the lead in prosecuting the grave coercion case.
“Sa loob ng mahigit 3 taon, hindi po bumitaw ang Department of Justice at ang mga state prosecutors, at hindi nagsawang bigyan ng kaukulang pansin at pagod ang kasong ito. Alam kong mahaba pa ang proseso pero nananalig ako na mayroong hustisya. Taos puso po ang aking pasasalamat sa DOJ sa pamumuno ni Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre.”
(In over a period of 3 years, the DOJ has not let go and has not given up in giving the necessary attention and effort for this case. I know that the process is long but I have faith that there is justice. I give wholehearted thanks to the DOJ under the leadership of Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.)
Trial dates have been set for Lee, Cornejo, and the two others to present evidence of their defense. Meanwhile, 3 other accused in the grave coercion case who were not present at the police station were acquitted.
Lee and Cornejo were also among the accused in a separate case for serious illegal detention, which is still being tried with the Regional Trial Court of Taguig, Branch 153.
They have also been charged with perjury for claiming that Navarro raped Cornejo. The trial is going on at the Metropolitan Trial Courts of Manila.
In 2014, Cornejo filed 2 separate cases against Navarro, claiming he raped her on January 17 and January 22, the night of a controversial mauling incident that left the actor seriously injured.