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PRINCETON: Defense attorney says alleged sex assault story a cover for extra-marital affair (updated)

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
More details have emerged about an illegal immigrant from Guatemala charged in the Green Street assault, his prior arrests in the former Princeton Borough and the night of sex with a woman that authorities contend turned violent on Jan.22.
Arnoldo Agreda-Rodriguez on Tuesday appeared for a bail hearing in a Trenton courtroom via a video hookup from the Mercer County Correction Center, where he has been held on $15,000 bail since Princeton police arrested him Jan.25. He has been charged with assaulting and threatening a 48-year-old Princeton woman, whom he contends is his girlfriend, inside a vacant house.
Assistant deputy public defender Diane R. Lyons, his defense attorney, told a judge at the hearing that Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez is involved in a romantic relationship with the married woman, and that the two of them would meet where they could find a private place to be together. The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office has said that the woman had been in a relationship with him for more than a year.
In this case, the two entered a vacant house on Green Street, a few houses away and across the street from where Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez resides in an apartment. The two had sex, but the victim claims she wanted to stop upon feeling abdominal pain, according to Ms. Lyons in reviewing records of the case.
During the alleged assault that ensued, Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez allegedly grabbed the woman’s neck, hit her on the head and told her, “This is the last time I will see your face,” according to police charging documents.
The woman fled by breaking a window and jumping outside, police have said. A neighbor who witnessed the dramatic exit called 911 to report the matter to authorities, it was revealed in court. The victim was taken to the hospital with cuts to her hands and head and facial injuries and later released, police have said.
Yet the victim has changed details about her story, something that presents challenges to the prosecutor’s office as the case progresses, Ms. Lyons said.
The victim originally told police she had been abducted as she walked north on Witherspoon Street and then sexually assaulted inside the house by someone she didn’t know.
But as the case progressed, the sexual assault and abduction parts of the story changed, something Ms. Lyons pounced on. Princeton Police Department confirmed last week that the victim was not sexually assaulted.
“She’s trying to hide her extra-marital affair from her husband,” Ms. Lyons said outside the courtroom. “She’s already changed her story. And that’s going to be a problem for the state.”
The woman has not been identified, and was not in the courtroom Tuesday. Princeton Police Chief Nicholas K. Sutter has said she would not be charged with giving false information to police.
Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez has asserted he is innocent, and that his girlfriend “concocted” the story, Ms. Lyons said in court.
But Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez, a native of Central America, has had his run-ins with police before.
Court records revealed he has prior arrests in the former Princeton Borough, including on charges that he was holding a 13-inch kitchen knife when he threatened to kill another man in December 2012.
He was able to resolve that matter by entering the pre-trial intervention program, records showed. The program enables offenders to complete a type of probation without ever having a conviction on their rap sheet.
Kim Otis, a local defense lawyer who has represented illegal immigrants, said Monday that neither the prosecutor’s office nor the probation department that handles PTI would contact the federal government about his immigration status.
“They’re not going to notify anybody,” said Mr. Otis, who said it was “not really” a loophole in the system.
Alvin Phillips, a spokesman for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Monday that a detainer was in the process of being placed on Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez. Prior to the 2012 incident, Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez was accused, also in Princeton Borough in 2005, of grabbing a man by the head and shirt and scratching his head and abdomen. He resolved that and another matter by pleading guilty to a lesser offense and paying fines.
Princeton police have identified him as Arnoldo Agreda-Rodriguez, although New Jersey court records indicate that is his alias, that his name is Arnoldo Agreda. Originally from Central America, he also is listed with different dates of birth, either in August 1972 or August 1973, which would put his age at either 43 or 42.
At the bail hearing, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Timothy P. Lydon said that Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez has lived in New Jersey for 15 years and has five dependents.
Information on his Facebook page profile says that Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez works for Princeton University.
“He is not employed by the university,” said school spokesman Dan Day last week. “I can’t verify that he ever worked here.”
Ms. Lyons said in court that Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez has worked for the past two years at the Ivy Inn. But the Ivy Inn ownership said this week that he has never worked there.
The judge did not change the bail, as Mr. Agreda-Rodriguez sat through the proceeding aided by a Spanish language interpreter. No future court date was scheduled.
“I think this case will resolve itself very quickly,” Ms. Lyons said.

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