[REPOST] Cebu Prosecutor Lowers Rape Charge Against Noven Belleza to Sexual Assault

7 months ago

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Noven Belleza Sexual Assault

Image courtesy of www.newsinfo.inquirer.net

Source: www.newsinfo.inquirer.net

After spending three nights under police custody, Tawag ng Tanghalan’s first grand champion Noven Belleza can now go home.

The Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office has downgraded the case filed against the singing sensation from rape to sexual assault.

Unlike rape, sexual assault is a bailable offense. Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Ma. Theresa Casiño, who perused the evidence presented to her, ruled that the proper case to be filed in court against Belleza should be sexual assault.

Bail was recommended at P120,000.

Belleza’s lawyer Leilani Villarino said they opted to waive their right to a preliminary investigation which could have given them the chance to refute the allegations hurled against her client at the prosecutor’s office.

“We will answer everything during court trial. What is important now is he (Belleza) will be able to post bail,” Villarino told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“For now, he enjoys the presumption of innocence,” she added.

Belleza, a rice farmer from Negros Occidental, was named grand champion in last March’s Tawag ng Tanghalan, a talent search aired on ABS-CBN’s noontime program “Showtime.”

Last Saturday, Belleza performed as guest in a comedy concert of the noontime show’s host Vice Ganda at the IEC Pavilion in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City.

After the concert, at around 11 p.m., the 22-year-old singer was arrested by operatives of the Mabolo Police Station for allegedly molesting a 19-year-old local performer who also competed in the Tawag ng Tanghalan singing contest.

Police Officer 1 Ma. Theresa Talisic of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk of the Cebu City Police Office said the victim claimed that she was sexually molested by Belleza around 2 p.m. last Saturday, July 15, in a condominium in Barangay Lahug where the singer was staying.

The young woman claimed that Belleza inserted his finger into her vagina.

About 14 hours after his arrest, Belleza complained of chest pains, prompting the police to place him under hospital arrest in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City.

Prosecutor Casiño had to go to the hospital on Tuesday morning to conduct an inquest proceeding—a mandatory procedure after the arrest of a person. The prosecutor found sufficient basis to indict Belleza on charges of sexual assault.

According to Villarino, Belleza’s lawyer, a complaint of rape can be filed by a woman when a man forcibly penetrates her with his penis.

On the other hand, sexual assault can be slapped against a person who inserts his or her fingers or any other object into the genitals of another person.

Based on the investigation of the police, Belleza and the victim knew each other and were text mates.  SFM