OCEAN CITY — A West Virginia man was charged with rape and assault this week after allegedly sexually assaulting a passed-out juvenile girl on the grass in front of a downtown residence.
On Tuesday, Ocean City Police responded to the area of Lark Lane for a passed-out individual, but the report was then changed to a possible rape involving a 15-year-old girl. Witnesses on the scene gave a description of the alleged suspect, later identified as Joseph Fernandez, 19, of Martinsburg, West Va.
Fernandez was located a short time later in the area of 26th Street and began making statements to OCPD detectives, including that he was sorry and that the girl told him she was over 21. At that point, Fernandez also told police he had no idea the victim was under 18 and that he did have sex with her because she said she was 18.
Detectives then met with the victim’s sister, who told police she had observed Fernandez on top of her sister on the grass outside a residence on Lark Lane allegedly having sex. The victim’s sister told police the victim was extremely intoxicated and had been unconscious and unresponsive just prior to the alleged sexual assault. Other witnesses in the area corroborated the sister’s version of the events leading up to the alleged assault.
The victim was transported to AGH for a rape kit, but because of her level of intoxication, the test could not be performed immediately. According to police reports, the hospital reported the victim’s blood-alcohol level at .21. Meanwhile, Fernandez was taken into custody and questioned by OCPD detectives. At that point, Fernandez admitted to having sexual intercourse with the juvenile victim.
When asked about the victim’s level of intoxication, Fernandez told police the victim was under the influence and was “going unconscious” and that he was helping her. When asked to clarify the statement, Fernandez told police he knew if someone passes out and falls on their back, they are in danger of choking on their own vomit, and that he was merely attempting to keep that from happening to the juvenile victim.
As the interview went on, Fernandez then told police he did not know how he ended up having sex with the victim and later actually said he did not remember it. Based on observations, witness statement and Fernandez’s own statements, he was charged with second-degree rape and second-degree assault. He was later released on Wednesday after posting a $25,000 bond.