ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - Closing arguments are being made in the trial of Bejarni Rivas, who is accused of having sex with an underage girl so the girl's mother could pay off her debt to him.
In the recently-released police interrogation video, Rivas sits uncomfortably on a couch and listens as detectives confront him with the evidence.
“We know you had sex with her. We know where it occurred. We know when it occurred. We know everything,” a detective says.
At first, Rivas hesitates, but then tells police he wants to do what’s right. He describes going to Silver Spring's Georgian Colonies Club House twice to meet the 14-year-old girl. He says the mother waited outside while he took the girl into the changing rooms.
“I gave her a tip, $100,” says Rivas.
Rivas is charged with multiple counts of rape, human trafficking and child abuse, allegations which draw a strong reaction in the Club House community.
“They both, as far as I am concerned, are crazy,” says Arthur Hoes, of Silver Spring. “The judge should lock them up in prison, as far as I’m concerned, and give them life without parole.”
“It’s not right, it’s not right, and they have to pay for what they are doing. I feel sorry for the girl,” says Matilda Anani, of Silver Spring.
The victim's mother has already been convicted for selling her daughter. She faces a sentence that could exceed 100 years.
Before his trial, after being released on bond, Rivas vanished. It’s believed he fled to Nicaragua. In a highly unusual move, the judge agreed to try the case in absentia. Since last week, a jury has heard testimony from witnesses including the now 15-year-old alleged victim. They have seen the police video, but have not seen Rivas. His defense attorney says it’s wrong and plans to fight all the way to the Supreme Court if need be.