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Junior college rape suspect being released pending investigation

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A Petaluma teen who was arrested Thursday on suspicion of raping a female student at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Petaluma campus last week will be released from Sonoma County Jail Monday pending further investigation. Brandon Larrieta Cortes, 19, was being held in jail under $126,000 bail. His next court date is April 15 for possible filing of charges as the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the alleged sexual assault.

Petaluma police arrested Cortes on suspicion of rape, sodomy and sexual battery. Police said the alleged rape happened in a library on the Petaluma campus on March 11.

The alleged victim reported the sexual assault to the Santa Rosa Junior College District Police Department and Petaluma police joined the investigation as the lead agency, Detective Sgt. Paul Gillman said. Gilman said there were no witnesses in the library to the alleged assault around 10:30 a.m.

Defense attorney Paul Lozada said his client and the alleged victim knew each other, and Cortes denies the allegations for which he was arrested.

Cortes also is a student at SRJC’s Petaluma campus, Gilman said. Police are asking any witnesses to the alleged sexual assault to contact Detective Walt Spiller at (707) 778-4456.

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