Sex charge stemming from Main Street confrontation dismissed
Prosecutors on Monday dismissed a case against a Park City man arrested after a fight at a Main Street nightclub and are continuing to pursue charges against two other men suspected of being involved.
Seirgio Hernandez, 29, had faced a count of sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor, stemming from a confrontation at a little bit before 1 a.m. on April 21. Joy Natale, who prosecuted the case for the Summit County Attorney’s Office, said the woman who claimed to be the victim did not appear for a Monday hearing in Third District Court at Silver Summit, leading to the dismissal. Prosecutors could re-file the case later.
A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled on Monday. A judge uses a preliminary hearing to determine whether a criminal case proceeds. Natale said a subpoena had been issued for the woman to appear in court on Monday.
The Park City Police Department said after the fight the woman told officers Hernandez grabbed her breasts. Two men who were with the woman then approached Hernandez and a fight ensued, the police have said. Rick Ryan, a police captain, described the case as one of "street justice" at the time.
But an attorney who represents Hernandez this week described a different scenario, saying Hernandez was attacked without him committing any wrongdoing. Joe Wrona, who represents Hernandez in the criminal case and in a lawsuit against two people arrested, said in an interview the charge against Hernandez was "totally unjustified."
In a prepared statement, Wrona said Hernandez was "sucker punched," knocked to the ground and then beaten. He suffered a fractured skull, Wrona said. The statement indicated one of the men involved told the police they retaliated after they suspected Hernandez of sexually assaulting the girlfriend of one of the men. The woman told the police Hernandez grabbed her breasts in the nightclub, the prepared statement said.
The statement from Wrona said Hernandez later sat for an interview with the police saying he "identified eyewitnesses who could prove that Mr. Hernandez had done nothing more than get up from his table and walk 20 feet to the bar without touching anyone."
In a statement released by Wrona, Hernandez praised the Police Department’s efforts in the investigation.
"I was arrested as I stood in the street after just having my skull fractured. I could not make sense of what was happening to me. The fact that the Park City Police were willing to review the evidence that I presented to them once I could think clearly speaks well of the police department," Hernandez said in the statement.
Wrona has said Hernandez suffered cuts and bruises in addition to the fractured skull in the confrontation. It was a rare act of violence along Main Street resulting in such serious injuries.
The two men suspected in the case were arrested and the criminal cases are proceeding against them. Renato Lacerda, who is 28 years old and does not have a listed address on file at Third District Court, faces an assault charge, a class A misdemeanor. Arthur Lacerda, 24 years old and also without a listed address, is also charged with a class A misdemeanor count of assault. Preliminary hearings are scheduled Aug. 12. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by one year in jail and a $2,500 fine upon conviction.
Hernandez, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit against the two suspects a few days after the attack. It seeks at least $250,000. The lawsuit claims the two suspects misled the police, resulting in the arrest of Hernandez.
An attorney defending the two suspects in the lawsuit has filed an answer denying many of the claims. The answer says the two suspects admit assaulting Hernandez but that they did so after Hernandez grabbed the breasts of the woman. It says they acted in self-defense or while defending someone else. It also claims "mutual combat" occurred.
"All or part of the damage sustained by (Hernandez) was caused by the fault or conduct of" Hernandez, the answer says.
The filing asks that the lawsuit be dismissed. No court dates are scheduled in the lawsuit.
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.