AUBURN – Lawyers in a case that alleges new charges of sexual assault against 39-year-old James Reyes argued in Nemaha County District Court Wednesday over bond and defense insistence that the alleged victim is a liar.
The former prison guard was sentenced in 2019 to 120 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of four counts of sexual assault of a child. The case is under appeal, but Reyes was arraigned on separate charges alleging three counts of sexual assault of a child in 2009.
Defense Attorney Matt McDonald asked Judge Julie Smith to set bond for Reyes with a $100 provision, saying the court is still holding $20,000 on the previous case. He said Reyes is employed and has a history of making court appearances.
Chief Deputy Nemaha County Attorney Angelo Ligouri said it would be the lowest bond he has ever seen or heard of in a case like this. He said Reyes has been working at a fast-food restaurant in another county and questioned whether Reyes has access to minors.
McDonald said the new allegations come from a relative of the alleged victim in the earlier case.
He said she now claims memories of sexual assault, but testified at Reyes’ trial that he had not abused her.
McDonald told the judge: “She either lied to you and the jury under oath or she is trying to help (the first alleged victim) because her case is going down the tubes.”
Ligouri said it is not unusual for child victims of sexual assault to take years and even decades to process what happened to them and to come forward. He said one of the reasons the children are victimized is because the perpetrator knows they are not going to say anything.
Ligouri asked the court to review McDonald’s February deposition of the second alleged victim.
Ligouri: “In his deposition he calls her a liar … He’s called her a liar four times in just this bond hearing.”
Despite the confrontation, Ligouri said the girl held to the truthfulness of her memories.
Court records say she told a Nemaha County deputy that the assaults happened when she was a third grader in Auburn.
Ligouri told the judge that it is not true that the earlier conviction is going down the tubes and asked the judge for a higher bond.
Judge Smith set bond with a $5,000 provision, noting the $20,000 already being held by the court.