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UPDATE: Woman in rape case stands by story; defense claims park toilet sex was part of drug deal

UPDATE: Woman in rape case stands by story; defense claims park toilet sex was part of drug deal


VALPARAISO — A woman allegedly raped in a portable toilet in a Portage park teared up Wednesday afternoon as she affirmed her accusations against a claim that the sex was part of a drug deal gone bad.

"I said, 'Please don't do this,'" the woman told jurors from the witness stand.

The woman reiterated claims that the accused, James Braden, forced his way into the toilet she was using shortly before 1 p.m. April 1, 2017, at Imagination Glen Park.

Braden, 39, held a gun while he fondled her, forced her to perform a sex act and then sought more sexual activity but was unable to perform, she said.

The woman said she fled the toilet when she had the opportunity. After seeing Braden walk out and raise his hands in disgust, she went back to get her SUV keys, she said.

Braden walked to his vehicle, packed up a battery charger and drove off at what appeared to be 10 mph, said the woman, who broke down sobbing as she left the courtroom.

Earlier Wednesday in the trial, defense attorney Mark Chargualaf told jurors that Braden had a cocaine deal set up that day in the park.

He followed the alleged victim into the portable toilet and after she declined to use cocaine with him, he suggested she perform a sexual act for the drug, Chargualaf said. The then-27-year-old woman reportedly agreed and said it would have to be done quickly, but Braden was too nervous about the situation to follow through.

The alleged victim then left the toilet with the drugs and a witness will testify that she was not running or screaming for help, Chargualaf said. Braden was seen throwing his hands in the air as he left with an expression of disbelief and also did not flee the scene, the attorney said.

The version of events given by Braden is in stark contrast to that described during opening arguments Wednesday by Porter County Prosecutor Gary Germann.

He said Braden forced his way into the toilet being used by the alleged victim and raped her.

"Shut up," Germann claims Braden said. "Shut up. I've got a gun and the safety is off."

The woman, who was at the park with her fiance and their children, ran fearing she would be shot, Germann said.

Germann told jurors that the woman's former husband had had drug and alcohol problems and died of a drug overdose. Wanting nothing to do with it, she left him and finished nursing school, he said.

Braden faces 20 to 40 years behind bars if convicted of the rape charge.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper released one of the jurors Wednesday afternoon after the female juror admitted to having fallen asleep during the testimony of the alleged victim.

Germann raised the concern and was supported by Chargualaf.

Recent arrests booked into Porter County Jail


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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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