Child Pornography Charges Dropped Against Second Former Rockville Rape Case Suspect
Henry Sanchez Milian, 19, now faces no charges related to the case
Henry Sanchez Milian
Prosecutors have dropped child pornography charges against Henry Sanchez Milian, one of two suspects previously accused of raping a girl in a Rockville High School bathroom in March—a case that garnered national attention and sparked a fierce immigration debate.
Milian, now 19, was charged with two counts of possession of child pornography after prosecutors dropped the initial rape charges. The child pornography charges were withdrawn on Friday, according to online court records.
The Washington Post on Saturday was first in reporting that the child pornography charges were dropped.
Milian, who was then 18, and Jose Montano, then 17, were accused of raping a 14-year-old freshman girl March 16 in what police initially described as a brutal attack during school hours. Almost two months later, prosecutors dropped the charges, citing “lack of corroboration and substantial inconsistencies from the facts.”
As the more serious charges were dismissed, prosecutors announced their intention to pursue lesser charges of child pornography against both teens, based on photos the girl allegedly sent to Montano and which he then reportedly shared with Sanchez Milian.
Montano pleaded guilty in juvenile court in August to possessing a lewd image of a juvenile on his phone. His defense attorneys had challenged the charges, arguing that child pornography charges are typically levied against adults.
Attorneys for Sanchez Milian had said they were prepared to call the girl to the witness stand if the case went to trial later this month, but prosecutors wanted to avoid that because of the wishes of her family, according to the Post.
Though their criminal case related to the March 16 incident has ended, Sanchez Milian and Montano face an uncertain future. Both entered the country illegally last year—Sanchez Milian from Guatemala and Montano from El Salvador—and could face deportation.
The two teens became talking points in a national debate about immigration, to the point of being mentioned in a White House press conference. In the weeks after the students were charged with rape, Rockville High School became the site of protests against illegal immigration, and school and city officials received hundreds of vitriolic and threatening messages, many expressing anti-immigrant sentiment.
The Post reported that attorneys for Sanchez Milian plan to seek legal status for him, and attorneys for Montano are seeking asylum protection. Jose Canto, Montano’s attorney, told the paper that false reports of his client being in MS-13 could put him in danger from the gang or rival gangs if he were deported to El Salvador.
In an interview with Bethesda Magazine, State’s Attorney John McCarthy said his office tried to protect the girl while prosecuting the case. He said he could see why police filed rape charges against the teens at the time, but the “the final say” for whether to charge someone with rape or murder should come from his office.
He added that information about the case initially made public “turned out to be in large measure untrue.”
“I think that the system worked wonderfully here in the following sense. There was a charge,” he told Bethesda Magazine. “There was all kinds of political nonsense and public comments being thrown about, a lot of which turned out to not be based on any fact whatsoever. And yet at the end of the day, I think the right decision was made and the charges were dropped.”