Lawyer for Coker College student accused of rape says sex was co - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

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Lawyer for Coker College student accused of rape says sex was consensual

Cesar Lopez. (Source: Darlington County Detention Center) Cesar Lopez. (Source: Darlington County Detention Center)
Lauren Emily Pearson (Source: Darlington County Detention Center) Lauren Emily Pearson (Source: Darlington County Detention Center)

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – An attorney representing a Coker College student who was accused of forcing another student into a dorm bathroom and raping her issued a statement claiming the sex was consensual, and that police said of the rape allegations: “essentially she made it up.”

Lauren Emily Pearson, 18, was charged Thursday with filing a false police report in connection with the rape allegation made against 19-year-old Cesar Antonio Lopez, who was arrested on Sunday, April 29 and charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping.

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Hartsville Police Lt. Mark Blair indicated to WMBF News that Pearson allegedly lied about the sexual assault that led to the Lopez’s arrest.

Lopez, who was attending Coker College on an academic scholarship and played on the school’s soccer team, was questioned regarding the activities that took place at the party on Sunday morning, a statement from attorney Paul Cannarella reads.

“It appears that a student claimed that he kidnapped her against her will, covered her mouth to prevent her screams, pinned her down, forcibly raping her in a dorm bathroom, later dismissing her saying ‘you can go now,’” the statement continues.

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Lopez’s family contacted Cannarella’s office on Wednesday to represent him. Lopez was released on bond, and after meeting with him, Cannarella said he began an independent investigation into the allegations.

“From the onset Mr. Lopez vehemently denied he had committed any crime,” Cannarella stated. “He and his family were devastated by the allegations.”

Cannarella stated that Lopez told him that he and Pearson had consensual sex in the dorm bathroom, and that he readily admitted this version of events to police.

The attorney’s investigation led to other witnesses, who said they saw Lopez and Pearson “making out” before leaving the dorm room. Cannarella said his team was also investigating “things in the past” that they believe are relevant to discrediting the allegations against Lopez.

“By late afternoon, the statements made by the alleged victim and her friends when interviewed by police simply weren’t adding up,” the statement continued. “Several of Mr. Lopez’s friends and acquaintances were interviewed and provided differing versions of events.”

On Thursday evening, Pearson, also a Coker College student, was arrested and booked into the W. Glen Campbell Detention Center, charged with filing a false police report related to a felony, Cannarella stated. Police confirmed Pearson was the person behind the rape allegations against Lopez, and that “essentially she made it up,” according to police.

“Through our combined efforts, it appears that justice may swiftly be served in this case, however, it has taken a heavy toll on Mr. Lopez and his entire family,” Cannarella continued. He said that the status of Lopez’s charges are still unknown, as of Friday morning.

Lopez’s family was also forced to travel to South Carolina from out of state, and pay for bail bonds and legal representation, Cannarella stated. Lopez was also banned from campus, removed from the soccer team, and suspended from the school after he was released from jail.

Cannarella’s statement concludes:

These false allegations should cause society to pause when they hear on the news or read on the internet that a person has been charged with a crime. Folks are quick to convict based simply on allegations, which oftentimes, just as here, are later proven to be false. In this case, our swift actions allowed that to happen rather quickly.

Sadly, its hard to un-ring the “charged with rape and kidnapping” bell. Mr. Lopez’s life has been changed forever, all because of a made-up story. His picture and the allegations are all over the internet. He was forced to leave the college he held near and dear.

All of us are wounded, so we seek mercy and, therefore must be merciful.

Dominus vobiscum.

Further details will be released as they become available.

"Dominus vobiscum" is Latin for "The Lord be with you."

WMBF News will continue to provide updates on this case as they become available.

Copyright 2018 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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