DENVER — A U.S. Air Force cadet accused of brutally raping another cadet last year went on trial Monday in federal district court.
Alvaro Pablo Velarde, an international student from Lima, Peru, faces two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact.
A female cadet said he raped her in her dorm room so violently on Oct. 23, 2018 she was in intense pain and left with a concussion. It is the policy of Denver7 to not identify victims of alleged sexual assault.
Velarde was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2018.
Prosecutors said Monday Velarde ignored the victim’s pleas to stop as he raped her.
He forced her pants down, forced her onto the bed, sexually assaulted her and hit her head so hard she felt “dazed,” federal prosecutor Emily Treaster told the jury in opening statements.
The victim was crying during the incident, Treaster said.
At the end of the incident, as the victim looked for her clothes, Treaster said Velarde cleared his throat to get her attention and held up her clothes. He then forced the victim to kiss him before he left her dorm room, Treaster claimed.
Defense attorney claims
Defense attorney Mark Scabavea has described the case as a “he said, she said,” case and told the jury on Monday that this case stemmed from the "Me Too" movement.
He said the victim had a serious boyfriend and learned her parents were getting a divorce. He said the victim claimed she was raped after consensually having sex with the defendant and cheating on her “serious” boyfriend.
Velarde’s father does not believe the allegations. Through an interpreter, he told Denver7 he raised his son to have values.
“I never imaged living through these moments because I raised him with values and the right morals,” Dagoberto Velarde said after court. “My kids grew up with both me and my wife teaching them two very important values in life, which is punctuality and always living by the truth."
Dagoberto Velarde said his son was kicked out of the Air Force Academy after the victim made allegations and an investigation was started.
Court transcripts of previous court hearings show the victim went to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs in severe pain. She was later diagnosed with a concussion, according to a federal investigator who testified at Velarde’s detention hearing.
The victim was crying in pain and needed two doses of pain killers, a nurse who treated the victim previously told investigators.
The defendant’s roommate told investigators that Velarde admitted that he continued having sex with her even after she asked him to stop, according to court records.
DNA testing showed Velarde had sex with the victim, an investigator testified.
At one point during the rape investigation, investigators said three people said they heard Velarde say, “Something to the effect of, ‘I’m an international student and I have to kill somebody to get kicked out of the academy.’”
The victim told another cadet within minutes of the alleged sexual assault, an investigator previously also testified.
Velarde is being held in the Jefferson County Jail.
Most Air Force Academy cadets are required to be United States citizens, but international students are exempt from this requirement, according to the U.S. Air Force Academy website.
The trial is expected to last five days.