Alleged rape of teenage army recruit gets attention of Peru’s top military brass and Cabinet ministers

A military booze party that led to the alleged rape of a 19-year-old recruit on Lima’s Hoyos Rubio military base has caught the attention of Peru’s Defense Minister, Congress and top military brass officials.

Defense Minister Antero Flores Aráoz, Women’s Affairs Minister Susana Pinilla Cisneros and the Commander-in-Chief of Peru’s Armed Forces, Edwin Donayre Gotzch, all personally met with the victim, Sadith Raymondi, and her lawyer, Miro Toledo, after she charged that an army major and captain tried to hush up the affair by showing up at the victim’s door and harassing her by telephone.

“If the charges are true,” said Aráoz, “those involved will be banned from the institution.”

There will be an impartial investigation, he told daily La Republica, “come hell or high water.”

The alleged sexual assault comes eight months after an army lieutenant was charged with raping another 19-year-old recruit in the same military installation.

“It’s up to Congress and the general public to speak up and make sure this condemnable and shocking act doesn’t go unpunished,” Congresswoman Karina Beteta, chairwoman of the legislative Women and Social Development Commission, told daily El Comercio. “It’s impossible that a young woman be subjected to this type of aggression in safe place.”

Army Major Miguel Gómez Ormeño and two of his subordinates, Capt. Javier Grande Oré and Officer Manuela Alvarado Talledo, are currently under investigation for the alleged rape. According to Raymondi, who left Peru’s highland region of Huancayo in July and came to Lima with dreams of becoming a military officer, Alvarado told her to show up for a military luncheon on Aug. 15 and to wear a miniskirt to play the part of hostess.
When the luncheon was over, the recruit told investigators, Grande told her to meet him in his office. Her Captain showed up with five other officers and booze. Raymondi and another recruit, Lucero Cerna Villena, were ordered to dance with the officers.

Grande forced beer onto Raymondi and when she felt light-headed and sick, she was refused permission to retire to her quarters. Rather, Grande and Alvarado led her to a vehicle occupied by three army majors.

Raymondi remembers nothing after this point, but testified that when she woke up the next morning, she found herself lying naked in a hotel bed with Gómez, who had raped her.

“I think they gave me beer mixed with a substance so that I would fall asleep,” said Raymondi, who joined the army a month prior to the incident.

“When I woke up,” she said, “Major Miguel Gómez was lying beside me naked. I yelled at him for what he did to me. He told me he was sorry and offered me his support.”

The next day, when Raymondi visited Grande with her aunt, the captain promised “to investigate,” and “fix everything.”

Then on Aug. 21, when the military officers found out that Raymondi agreed to speak with reporters from daily La Republica,  she says they actively tried to coerce her into silencing the affair. She charged that both Grande and Alvarado showed up at her door and Gómez called her repeatedly.

“We wanted to speak to Sadith to resolve the situation,” Grande reportedly told La Republica in his own defense. “We aren’t responsible for what happened. We don’t want unnecessary harm to come to us. Maj. Miguel Gómez is the one who took her and he should be held responsible. We didn’t hand her over.”

But according to Raymondi’s lawyer, Miro Toledo, “they all participated in the preparation and consummation of the crime.”

“They had her drink alcohol because they planed for Major Miguel Gómez Ormeño to take her and rape her in the hotel. Everything was premeditated.”

Toledo, who is pushing for a 30-year prison sentence for Gómez, has also said he plans to include Raymondi’s fellow recruit, Cerna, in the investigation because she has begun to contradict Raymondi’s version of the facts.

“She is changing her testimony because of pressure exercised by top military commanders,” Toledo told La Republica.

Gómez and Alvarado have also tried to convince Raymondi, via a family member, to come back to the barracks to resolve the affair. But the young woman fears for her life: “if I go back, they could hurt me,” she said.

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