Rape and sexual assault charges have been dropped against two young immigrants accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in a bathroom of a high school in Rockville, Maryland, prosecutors say.
The reported crime horrified local parents and became national news after the White House called it an example of why President Donald Trump is cracking down on illegal immigration.
The defendants, Henry Sanchez Milian, 18, and Jose Montano, 17, each illegally entered the United States alone, to join their families. Deportation proceedings against them are underway.
The teens initially were charged with rape and sexual assault after an encounter with the girl at Rockville High School in March, during school hours.
But the evidence does not support rape charges, Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said Friday morning.
"We have concluded that the facts in this case do not support the original charges filed in this matter," he said at a news conference. "Due to the lack of corroboration and substantial inconsistencies from the facts that we have obtained from multiple sources since the filing of the original charging document, the original charges cannot be sustained, and prosecution on those charges is untenable."
McCarthy said the investigation was extensive and included multiple interviews and reviews of phone and computer records, school surveillance video and medical records.
Montano now faces possession and distribution of pornography charges. Sanchez Milian also faces possession of pornography charges.
The pornography charges are related to lewd photographs the girl sent to Montano, who then forwarded them to Sanchez Milian.
Montano's lawyer, Maria Mena, called the pornography charges unfair. She argued that the girl should be charged for creating the pornography.
Under Maryland law, statutory rape laws apply when the older person is a full four years older than the younger person.
The girl reported to police that the two boys approached her in a school hallway and asked her to walk with them, police initially said. Montano asked her for sex, and after she refused, he and Sanchez Milian forced her into a boys' bathroom, where they took turns raping and sodomizing her as she cried out in pain and asked them to stop, police said.
Defense attorneys later said text messages between the girl and Montano showed the two spoke about having sex at school the following day.
A judge ruled that was not an agreement, however, that would have bound her to have sex with two partners.
Prosecutors said texts between Montano and Sanchez Milian showed they planned to attack the girl.
The superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, Dr. Jack Smith, said the district is still cooperating with police and prosecutors.
“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Rockville High School community, particularly the female student who has been at the center of this. I know that the staff and students remain focused on healing as a community and ending this school year 'Rockville Strong,'" Smith said in a statement.
No matter the outcome of the case, Montano and Sanchez Milian will not return to the high school, Smith said.
"We need to provide them an education, but it will not be in a school building. It will not be during the regular school day. It will not be a typical school experience," he said.
Federal deportation proceedings against them have already begun.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a news conference Friday that spokesman Sean Spicer reacted after the alleged crime to "what he knew at the time."
The school received threats of bombings and shootings after the alleged attack. One caller threatened to shoot "illegals" at the school, police said.
Sanchez Millian's father was taken into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody after it was discovered he was living in the U.S. illegally, officials said.
Montgomery County Public Schools records show 27 reports of high school sexual assaults or sexual incidents requiring police response in the previous school year, the News4 I-Team reported, including at least one incident at Rockville High School.
In 2014-2015, the school district reported 14 “sex-related” incidents requiring police response at county high schools.
In April 2014, MCPS told the I-Team it installed mirrors and cameras to reduce blind spots in some hallways of another high school in Rockville after a consensual sexual encounter wasn't noticed by staff or administrators.
Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.