WINCHESTER — A 2010 case involving a defendant who molested a girl when he was 13 and 14 years old and she was 8 and 9 years old was resolved Tuesday in Frederick Circuit Court without incarceration.
According to court documents, the girl on Feb. 14, 2019, told a therapist that Fernando Mejia Brioso had digitally penetrated her vagina in the bedroom of her home. The girl originally said it occurred in 2012-13, but later said it was between January and December of 2010. Marie E. Acosta, a county assistant commonwealth’s attorney, told Judge William Warner Eldridge IV that the girl hadn’t intended to report the molestation to police. However, as a mandated reporter, the therapist was obligated to notify authorities.
On July 13, 2019, Mejia Brioso, of the 100 block of Brunswick Road, was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery and sexual penetration. In the Tuesday agreement that didn’t involve the now 25-year-old Brioso entering a plea, the aggravated sexual battery charge was amended to assault and battery and dropped and the sexual penetration charge also was dismissed.
Acosta said after the court hearing that the decision not to prosecute was based on several factors. They included that until Mejia Brioso was 21, the case would’ve been prosecuted in Frederick/Winchester Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. In juvenile court, which emphasizes rehabilitation over incarceration, the case would’ve been sealed and Mejia Brioso’s record would’ve eventually been expunged if he wasn’t charged with additional crimes.
Other factors were the victim supporting the agreement and the fact that the human brain isn’t fully developed until a person is 25 years old, leading children to sometimes engage in impulsive, irrational and unacceptable behavior. The difficulty of obtaining a conviction at trial due to a lack of physical evidence and witnesses was also a consideration.
“This is a good outcome relative to what would’ve been a very uncertain outcome at trial,” Acosta said. “It was a very difficult case to craft an appropriate [disposition] for.”
Eldridge said the circumstances of the case warranted the unusual resolution. “Most importantly, the victim is in full agreement with this disposition,” he said.