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Misla Aldarondo Charged With Rape

August 16, 2002
Copyright © 2002 REUTERS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - The former speaker of Puerto Rico's House of Representatives was charged with rape on Thursday for an alleged assault on a 17-year-old girl who visited his home last month.

In a hearing that lasted most of the day, a judge found probable cause to arrest Edison Misla Aldarondo, a prominent member of the local Republican Party, on charges of rape, corrupting a minor and supplying drugs and alcohol to a minor.

Misla, 59, resigned his House seat in January after being indicted in October by U.S. authorities in an influence-peddling scheme surrounding the sale of a government hospital while he was House speaker. Misla has been free on bail pending his trial on the federal charges.

Also on Thursday, Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez asked an independent prosecutor to investigate allegations that Misla has been molesting his step-daughter, also 17 and a friend of the alleged rape victim, for the last eight years.

Misla is a familiar political figure in the U.S. territory of 4 million people, having served more than 20 years as a representative for the San Juan district.

The 17-year-old girl alleged that Misla sexually assaulted her while she was visiting his step-daughter, a high school friend, on July 15, according to local news reports citing police and prosecution sources. She told prosecutors that Misla gave them prescription drugs and alcoholic beverages before the alleged attack, the reports said.

The step-daughter corroborated the girl's story and told prosecutors her step-father had sexually molested her on several occasions over the last eight years, the reports said.

Misla is just one in a long line of prominent public figures arrested in various public corruption schemes. But the latest charges have proved a shock to a public that has become used to seeing politicians indicted.

``I don't believe there are words to express how we feel as Puerto Ricans when faced with this,'' Gov. Sila Calderon said. ``We want this to be cleared up as soon as possible, that justice is served and that this never happens again.''

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