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Alleged rape victim jailed and held on $500,000 bail

Despite no charges filed against her and no criminal history, a named victim in a rape case was ordered to stay in the Jackson County Jail until the suspect’s trial set to begin next week.

The 20-year-old woman is a material witness in the case against Christian Alexander Sanchez, 30, who is slated to stand trial starting Sept. 13 on a dozen felony charges that include first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree assault, coercion, unlawful use of a weapon and causing another person to ingest a controlled substance.

The woman is named as the victim in each of the 12 felony charges, which allegedly occurred between Sept. 1 and Sept. 12, 2020. The Mail Tribune has a policy not to identify victims in cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

At a Wednesday afternoon video hearing from the jail in Jackson County Circuit Court, the woman appeared to have a polite rapport with Deputy District Attorney Zori Cook, who is prosecuting the Sanchez case; however, the victim expressed shock and surprise when Judge Kelly Ravassipour set bail at $500,000.

“Five hundred thousand dollars,” the woman exclaimed during the video hearing. “Holy hell.”

Cook told the woman she’d be visiting her in the jail later that afternoon to explain.

Cook told Ravassipour that an order to show cause surrounding the witness hold would be filed Thursday morning. Ravassipour appointed a public defender for the woman and scheduled another hearing for 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

When reached by phone late Thursday afternoon, Deputy District Attorney Nick Geil, who appeared alongside Cook during the woman’s hearing, said he can’t comment on pending litigation.

When asked why an alleged victim of sexual assault would need to be held in jail, Geil said answering the question would reveal details in their case.

More information behind the hold may be released in the Thursday morning hearing.

Under Oregon Revised Statute 136.608, a district attorney or defendant may apply for a material witness hold if they believe the witness “possesses information material to the determination of the action against the defendant” and “will not appear at the time when attendance of the witness is required.”

The woman’s arrest warrant drew from a motion Cook filed Sept. 1 deeming the woman a material witness in the case against Sanchez. Judge Lorenzo Mejia ordered her detained until Sanchez’s trial — scheduled to last three days — is complete.

Mejia made his decision on a Sept. 1 affidavit that Cook requested be sealed in court records because “the affidavit contains information which, if released, could jeopardize the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”

Jail records show the woman was booked at noon Tuesday on the warrant.

Her alleged abuser, Sanchez, has been held in the jail since Sept. 13, 2020, when Jackson County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested him on rape, sodomy, kidnapping, assault and weapon use charges.

An affidavit filed by detectives surrounding Sanchez’s September 2020 arrest was sealed in court records, but court filings show Cook intends to seek stiffer penalties against Sanchez at trial on grounds that include a “threat of actual violence” in each of the 12 charges, “use of a weapon” in one of the kidnapping charges and three of the second-degree assault charges, and because Sanchez allegedly committed the crimes while on post-prison supervision.

Sanchez has multiple felony convictions, including prior convictions for third-degree rape, second-degree sexual abuse, second-degree online sexual corruption of a child and using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct stemming from an October 2012 Medford police arrest. Police said at the time that Sanchez solicited multiple underage girls in sexting relationships via Facebook and engaged in sexual activity with some of the victims.

Sanchez remains in jail on $750,000 bail pending his trial.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.