VALPARAISO — A 60-year-old Valparaiso man accused of carrying out a brutal sexual attack nearly 23 years ago in the city is now saying he was out of state at the time of the alleged offense.
Jaime Cordero was at ABC Rail Products Corporation in Chicago Heights, Illinois, when the attack occurred at 12:55 p.m. Sept. 18, 1996, according to an alibi defense motion filed Monday morning.
The defense attorney filing the motion, Mark Chargualaf, said his first substantial meeting with Cordero took place Thursday, at which time he first learned about the alibi defense.
Cordero's trial was to begin Monday, but was called off Friday, and a hearing was scheduled for Sept. 27 on a motion to dismiss. The motion claims prosecutors waited too long to file the criminal charge.
Cordero was charged Sept. 20, 2012, with a class B felony count of criminal deviate conduct for allegedly forcing a 60-year-old Valparaiso woman to her to apartment floor, wrapping duct tape around her eyes and hands and then sexually assaulting her.
That level felony is supposed to be filed within five years of an alleged offense, the deadline of which would have been Sept. 18, 2001, according to the defense motion.
An exception in the law allows for the charge to be filed within a year of the date of the discovery of DNA evidence or a time when DNA evidence could have been discovered, the motion states. This exception does not apply because no DNA evidence was collected at the scene of this attack, and evidence allegedly linking him to the offense was collected during other cases dating back to 2000, the defense contends.
Prosecutors had not yet filed a response as of Monday morning, according to online records.
Cordero appeared in court on the pending charge in March after the new administration in the Porter County prosecutor's office discovered the case had yet to be pursued, Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Buitendorp said at the time.
The Porter County Sheriff's Department had investigated but closed the case in March 1997 after failing to find any new developments in identifying the attacker, according to court records. The case was reopened in March 2012 after a special task force was formed to investigate a rash of similar sexual assaults in Munster, Dyer, Lansing and Porter County.
Cordero is locked up at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City on a criminal deviate conduct conviction and two burglary convictions from Lake County. His earliest possible release date is Nov. 8, 2034, according to online Indiana Department of Correction records.