- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The White House on Tuesday weighed in on the rape of a 14-year-old girl in a Montgomery County high school bathroom by two classmates, one of whom is an illegal immigrant, saying the case is “tragic” and the “human side” should not be overshadowed by politics.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the shocking crime, which occurred Thursday at Rockville High School, underscores why President Trump has made a priority of cracking down on crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

“This is why he is passionate about this,” Mr. Spicer said when asked about the rape during the daily press briefing.

“Let’s remember the human side of this,” he said. “The idea that this occurred is shocking, disturbing, horrific and whatever other words someone can think of.”

Henry Sanchez, 18, and Jose Montano, 17, were arrested Thursday at Rockville High School and charged with three counts each in connection with the alleged rape of a female classmate. Both reportedly are recent arrivals to the U.S.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday that Mr. Sanchez had entered the country illegally last year, noting that a Border Patrol agent had encountered the youth in Texas in August.

SEE ALSO: School rape case raises important questions

Mr. Sanchez had lived in Guatemala until he was 17 and is the subject of an “alien removal” case, The Washington Post reported. Mr. Montano was born in El Salvador, where he lived until he was 16, according to court records.

Both are charged as adults with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offenses.

“These are very serious allegations carrying a life sentence. The potential of life in prison would be available as we prosecute these individuals,” said Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Spicer said the case spurred many questions, but many of the issues had to be addressed by local government.

“Immigration takes its toll on our people if it is not done legally,” he said.

Mr. Sanchez had been ordered to appear before an immigration judge, but that appearance has been set for another time.

A preliminary hearing for Mr. Montano is scheduled for March 31 and one for Mr. Sanchez on April 14.

Judge Eugene Wolfe has ordered the two defendants to remain in custody without bond until their next hearings.

According to police documents, the girl, identified by law enforcement as “Victim A,” told authorities that she was walking in a school hallway Thursday morning when she was approached by the two suspects.

“Montano asked Victim A for sex, which she refused. Montano asked again, more persistently, and pushed Victim A into the boys’ bathroom,” police wrote in a probable cause statement after interviewing the girl.

“Victim A was holding a sink to avoid going into the bathroom when Montano grabbed her hand and pulled her into the stall,” police wrote. Montano then began forcibly undressing the girl before Sanchez joined them inside the stall, according to police.

Both suspects took turns raping the girl, according to police documents. She told administrators, who alerted police.

Mr. Montano and Mr. Sanchez were arrested at school that same day.

⦁ Andrew Blake contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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