Mon, Jan. 20

Rape suspect pleads innocent

A Cottonwood man suspected of raping the girlfriend of a man who reportedly ripped him off in a drug deal pleaded innocent Monday to burglary and sexual assault charges.

Bond is set at $250,000 for Efron Moralez-Lopez, 22, who remains jailed in Camp Verde. Lopez, a Mexican national, was indicted March 22.

Police reported that the 19-year-old Cottonwood woman was raped in the early morning hours of March 14, most likely in retaliation for her boyfriend stealing drugs from the suspect the previous evening.

Reports show the couple quarreled over the boyfriend's drug use and an altercation ensued. Police were called and they arrested the male and booked him into jail on assault charges that night.

The woman reportedly fell asleep on the couch in her apartment and was awoken by Lopez around 4:15 the following morning. She said he was trying to remove her clothing and she tried to flee into the bedroom and lock the door but he overpowered her. After the assault he reportedly thanked her before leaving the apartment and fleeing on a bicycle hidden in the bushes.

The victim said she recognized the suspect from the drug deal the day before and immediately believed he was retaliating against her for what her boyfriend had done.

Police reported that when the boyfriend was released from jail the following day, he contacted police and wanted to help. They advised him to call if he saw the suspect again.

The man later called 911 from a payphone at the Cottonwood bowling alley reporting Lopez was at that location. Police arrived and placed Lopez under arrest. The victim positively identified him as the perpetrator.

Police said Lopez admitted entering the victim's apartment through an unlocked, sliding glass door and sexually assaulting her. They said his statements of what happened were consistent with what the victim reported, but he denied she resisted.

Following Lopez's arrest, police served a restraining order on the boyfriend prohibiting him from having contact from the victim.

Police say based on a search of his parents home in Cottonwood, Lopez is more likely identified as Efrain Quijada Delgado.

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