by Mindy Aguon
Guam - A third superceding indictment has been handed down in the Blue House Lounge prostitution case but despite the new and upgraded charges, an appeal could delay the trial indefinitely. Police Officers Anthony Quenga and David Q. Manila and former Blue House Lounge owner Song Ja Cha now face 17 criminal charges including kidnapping, felonious restraint, promoting prostitution and criminal sexual conduct and conspiracy.
The new charges were obtained in a third superceding indictment handed down late Friday. According to the new charges, the three are accused of unlawfully confining numerous women for a substantial period for the purpose of prostitution. They are accused of compelling prostitution by force, threat or duress. Manila is accused of sexually assaulting two women by force, including one who was under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged acts.
In fact, two of the victims who were born in 1989 appear to have been minors at the time they were forced into prostitution between January 2006 and 2008. Quenga is accused of sexually assaulting one female victim who was a minor repeatedly through digital penetration, fondling, and oral sex. Cha is accused of aiding and abetting the sexual abuse and all three are charged with criminal intimidation for allegedly threatening the women.
While Quenga, Manila and Cha are scheduled to answer to the new charges during an arraignment hearing this Wednesday, Cha's attorney, Jeffrey Moots, believes that because his client is currently appealing the court's denial of her motion to dismiss based on double-jeopardy, the new charges against his client won't stick.
Moots said, "Actually, we wouldn't be set for arraignment because when that indictment went up Mr. [Nelson] Werner lost jurisdiction to supercede the indictment. So as to our client that really wouldn't be." Superior Court Judge Anita Sukola said, "That's fine Mr. Moots. You can file whatever motions you want I'm just letting you know."
The judge has yet to make a decision in the prosecution's motion to have Manila's attorney, William Pole, removed from the case. Manila asserted his right to a speedy trial but due to Cha's appeal to the Guam Supreme Court, it's likely the appeal could put the case on hold. But prosecutor Werner made it clear today that a motion to stay the proceedings has not been filed by Cha's attorney and even if there is one, he wants the case to proceed.
He said, "If there is going to be a stay we would like the stay to apply only to defendant Cha, and I'd like to proceed against the two officers." Judge Sukola said, "It was you that wanted all the matters combined," to which Werner replied. "But I don't want it to be delayed any long."
When asked if he didn't want it to be delayed any longer, by the judge, Werner said no. "It depends upon me," said Sukola, which Werner acknowledged. "The court is extremely concerned Mr. Werner of this ping-pong style game that we're playing here and I do not know what the government is trying to do. This case has been ongoing since 2008 this is the third superceding indictment and it seems counsel I just want you to know there are now 17 new charges," said Sukola.
Last week co-defendant Police Officer Mario Laxamana entered into a plea agreement to cooperate with authorities and testify in exchange for a suspended jail sentence. With Cha's appeal pending with the Guam Supreme Court, Judge Sukola will have a status hearing on April 1 to see if she can set the matter for trial.