HANFORD — Sexual assault charges against Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle were dismissed Tuesday as the state Attorney General’s office decided not to prosecute.
The ruling in Kings County Superior Court from Judge Shane Burns came at a pre-trial hearing. Valle was facing five felony counts alleging that he raped two women in Corcoran, one in 2006 and another in 2010.
“It was decided that we could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Lynda Gledhill, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office. “We’re not going to go into detail.”
“Right now, all I can say is, I served six years in the Marine Corps to protect the freedoms and rights that we Americans have, and one of them is ‘innocent until proven guilty,’” Valle said. “I’m humbled at the fact that the attorney general allowed due process to take place and to fully exonerate me.”
Valle has maintained his innocence since he was arrested in September 2010.
Corcoran resident Bernadette Rodriguez, the alleged victim from 2010, read a statement in court in which she insisted that Valle raped her at his house. There had been a gag order preventing anyone involved in the case from talking publicly.
“He raped me plain and simple,” Rodriguez said. “I want the world to know what he did to me, and how horrible of a person he is. I want him, his family and the world to know that he is a rapist, whether or not he is convicted. He and I both know what he really is.”
“I’m not going to respond to that,” Valle said in a phone interview. “The attorney general made the decision after they interviewed her. I think the attorney general can speak to that. Justice was served.”
According to police reports, Rodriguez was intoxicated and possibly unconscious at the time the alleged rape occurred.
The alleged victim from 2006, who asked to remain anonymous, submitted a statement to The Sentinel late Tuesday afternoon in which she expressed disappointment with the dismissal.
“I just hope that the public and Richard Valle himself realize that having the case dropped does not, in any way, make him innocent of the charges,” the woman said.
She said she decided to reveal the 2006 incident when she saw news reports of Valle’s tearful proclamation of innocence during a Board of Supervisors meeting after his arrest.
Roger Nuttall, Valle’s attorney, called the women’s claims “ridiculous.”
“It took two years to get Richard Valle out from under this,” Nuttall said. “This case was based on false accusations that we were prepared to prove were false. I’m very grateful the right thing was done.”
Rape charges can be hard to prove in court, said Margie Wilhelm, Kings County victim witness coordinator.
“We actually have a fairly decent record of following through with these cases,” Wilhelm said. “The challenges are with a ‘he said, she said’ kind of thing. Then it gets tricky.”
The Valle case had dragged on for a year and a half before Tuesday’s dismissal. After his arrest in late 2010, Valle relinquished his position as chairman of the Kings County Board of Supervisors. He retained the District 2 supervisorial seat he was elected to in 2008, representing Corcoran, Avenal and Kettleman City.
Valle is running for re-election on June 5.
Nuttall argued that the Kings County District Attorney’s office couldn’t prosecute because of a conflict of interest — Valle has oversight over the DA’s budget. Nuttall moved to put the case in the hands of the state Attorney General’s office.
After a lower court agreed with Nuttall, the Attorney General’s office appealed.
The case was tied up for months until February, when a Sacramento appeals court ruled that the DA couldn’t try the case and that it was up to the Attorney General to decide whether to prosecute.
The reporter can be reached at 583-2432. To comment on this story, go to www.HanfordSentinel.com.
1:39 p.m. Tuesday:Rape allegations against Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle were dismissed today in Kings County Superior Court after the state Attorney General’s office declined to prosecute, said Roger Nuttall, Valle’s attorney.
Valle had adamantly maintained his innocence from the beginning. He was arrested in 2010 and charged with sexually assaulting two women in separate incidents.
After his arrest, Valle stepped down from his position as chairman of the board of supervisors but didn’t resign.
The Attorney General’s office inherited the case in February when an appeals court ruled that the Kings County District Attorney’s office couldn’t prosecute due to a conflict of interest.
The reporter can be reached at 583-2432 or snidever@HanfordSentinel.com.