News that one of the two Maryland high school students accused of raping a schoolmate was allegedly in the country unlawfully has caught the attention of the White House.
The student, 18-year-old Henry Sanchez-Milian, was arrested Thursday at Rockville High School in Rockville, Maryland, along with 17-year-old classmate Jose Montano. Both students are being charged as adults with first-degree rape and two counts each of committing a first-degree sexual offense, Montgomery County Police said.
Andrew Jezic, attorney for Sanchez-Milian, told CNN on Friday, his client will plead not guilty because "this was a pre-planned, consensual and non-forcible encounter."
"There were no scratches, no bruises. There was no hitting, there was no screaming, there was no running immediately to some sort of security officer," Jezic said.
Following Sanchez-Milian's arrest, ICE issued an immigration detainer, an order to local law enforcement to hold a suspect for a pending immigration review.
Jezic believes his client will be acquitted in a jury trial and plans to claim asylum for Sanchez-Milian following the criminal proceedings.
"My client and his brother fled gang violence in Guatemala," Jezic said.
The crime, which took place some 20 miles from the White House in a school district where many members of Congress and federal officials live, comes amid heightened scrutiny of undocumented immigrants. Last month, President Donald Trump directed the Department of Homeland Security to create an office tasked with focusing on crimes allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants.
Asked about the story at a Tuesday briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer called the crime "horrendous and horrible and disgusting."
"I think part of the reason the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this," he said.
But school officials rejected the notion that the incident has national implications.
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