DENVER — A jury returned a guilty verdict in the trial of a former U.S. Air Force cadet accused of brutally raping another cadet last year.
The jury found Alvaro Pablo Velarde, a 20-year-old international student from Lima, Peru, guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact. Velarde's sentencing has been set for July 30.
A female cadet claimed 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’s father said his son was kicked out of the Air Force Academy after the rape investigation started.
Prosecutors said 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 Monday.
The victim was crying during the incident, Treaster said.
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.
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.
“The conduct in this case is reprehensible not only because of the nature of the crime itself, but because of where it occurred,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn following the conviction. “Our service academies are national treasures. We send our best and brightest young adults there to become soldiers and to serve our country. It is the last place one should be attacked so violently. We are pleased that justice was done. The victim showed tremendous courage throughout this ordeal and I am proud that she will someday be defending our country as an Air Force officer.”
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.