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DOJ Files Illegal Detention Raps Against Cedric Lee; Junks Deniece Cornejo's Rape Case

The Department of Justice (DOJ) found merit in the evidence submitted by TV host-actor Vhong Navarro to file serious illegal detention and grave coercion cases against the group of Chinese businessman Cedric Lee and model-stylist Deniece Cornejo.

Deniece earlier said she was raped twice by Vhong in her condo unit in January this year. This rape complaint was further junked by the DOJ after Vhong proved otherwise.

Aside from Cedric and Deniece, cases were also filed against Berniece Lee, Simeon “Zimmer” Raz Jr., Jed “Mike” Fernandez, Jose Paolo "JP" Calma, and Ferdinand Guerrero.

The DOJ received sufficient evidence that the group tried to extort money from Vhong for allegedly "raping" Deniece. The three-member panel of the investigation team was composed of Assistant Prosecutors Olivia Torrevillas, Hazel Decena-Valdez, and Marie Elvira B. Herrera.

They signed the 42-page resolution on April 4 and released the results on April 10.

Vhong was emotional when he heard the news during "It's Showtime." The episode even aired the news report for Vhong and his co-hosts. They hugged after the announcement that the rape complaint was junked.

He then thanked his family and those who helped him get through the ordeal. Vhong mentioned specifically his girlfriend, Tanya Bautista, for giving him a "second chance" despite what happened.

He will stand by what he said against Cedric and Deniece, and he will prove that it is not within his capacity to force himself to a woman.

He may not be a good father or a good boyfriend, but he is a good son and the only way he can prove that is if he maintains true to his words that he cannot hurt another person.

Atty. Alma Mallonga, Vhong's legal counsel, said that DOJ found elements of illegal detention in the cases filed against Deniece's and Cedric's group. The primary basis of a serious illegal detention case is the lack of reason to detain a person.

There are also "serious physical injuries" and "threats to life." Cedric himself said that they effected a "lawful arrest" of Vhong because he committed rape. But since that case was junked, there was no reason anymore for them to detain the TV host-actor.

"If we know that this is not true, there could be no legal basis to detain Vhong. Detention is deprivation of liberty."

Cedric's group prevented Vhong from leaving. They gagged and tied him and threatened to kill him and his family.

The next step would be for the court to make an independent finding in 10 days. It cannot accept the ruling of the DOJ and it has to make its own decision on the merits of the case.

"If the judge believes there is sufficient evidence reaching probable cause that Cedric Lee and others committed serious illegal detention, the court will issue warrant of arrest."

Illegal detention is a non-bailable offense under Section 248 of the Revised Penal Code. It can put to jail the perpetrators for "reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death."

Extortion, on the other hand, has a consequence of "reclusion perpetua to death."

Meanwhile, Deniece was very angry at the decision of the DOJ. "Ako na na-rape, ako na naperhuwisyo, ako na nagpalampas, 'tapos ako pa ang kakasuhan. Napaka-unfair naman 'yan sa part ko, at sa part ng pamilya ko."

She said the DOJ was unfair in hearing her complaint against Vhong. It is obvious that the department is siding with the TV host-actor, she added.

"Nakakadismaya, nakakalungkot, nakakanginig, at nakakagalit."

Atty. Howard Calleja, the legal counsel of both Deniece and Cedric, refused to comment since he hasn't received a copy of the joint resolution.

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DOJ Files Illegal Detention Raps Against Cedric Lee; Junks Deniece Cornejo's Rape Case

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