Vhong Navarro acquitted of Rape Charges Sparks Debate and Divided Opinions
Screengrab Courtesy of It's Showtime!

TV host Ferdinand “Vhong” Navarro has been cleared of all charges of rape and acts of lasciviousness by the Supreme Court (SC). The court’s Third Division overturned last year’s ruling by the Court of Appeals (CA), calling it a “gravely erred”. This decision comes after model Deniece Cornejo appealed the case.

Supreme Court Dismisses the Case

Although the ruling was issued on February 8th, it was just made public on March 13th.

“In the case, the Court finds that the prosecutor’s findings of lack of probable cause against Navarro for the imputed crimes proceed from an adherence to the foregoing legal yardsticks, thus negating grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOJ in denying Comejo’s petition for review.”

The prosecutor meticulously scrutinized the available evidence and made an objective determination, as emphasized by the report. Additionally, the Supreme Court highlighted the discrepancies in Cornejo’s claims across the three complaints.

Last September, Vhong Navarro was taken into custody. He was also granted a chance to post bail worth P1 million in December. This January, he made a comeback to his hosting gig on “It’s Showtime!”.

Twitter Users’ mixed opinions

As news of the dismissal of the case against Vhong Navarro hit Twitter, the platform erupted into a flurry of opinions. While some users rejoiced in support of Navarro and his cleared name, others made it clear they were not on board with the decision.

Navarro vs. Cornejo Timeline

The Vhong Navarro-Denice Cornejo case involves allegations of rape and attempted rape against Navarro, a Filipino actor, comedian, and TV host, by Cornejo, a model and commercial actress.

  • January 22, 2014: Navarro was allegedly beaten up and sexually assaulted by Cornejo and several others at her condominium unit in Taguig City, Philippines.
  • January 23, 2014: Cornejo filed a rape complaint against Navarro with the police. Meanwhile, Navarro filed charges of serious physical injuries, grave threat, and blackmail against Cornejo and her companions.
  • January 26, 2014: Navarro gave a public statement denying the rape allegations. He accused Cornejo and her friends of extorting money from him.
  • January 29, 2014: Cornejo appeared on a talk show to give her side of the story. She claims that Navarro attempted to rape her and that her friends came to her aid.
  • February 6, 2014: Navarro filed a counter-affidavit denying the rape allegations and stating that he was the victim of extortion and blackmail.
  • February 14, 2014: The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) took over the investigation of the case.
  • March 6, 2014:

    Authorities charged Cornejo and her companions with serious illegal detention, a non-bailable offense. This is for allegedly detaining Navarro against his will.

  • April 10, 2014: Navarro filed a supplemental affidavit accusing businessman Cedric Lee and his group of masterminding the attack and extortion attempt.
  • May 22, 2014: The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a resolution finding probable cause to charge Cornejo and Lee with serious illegal detention, but dismissing Navarro’s charges against Cornejo and her companions.
  • June 4, 2014: Cornejo and Lee filed a motion for reconsideration with the DOJ, which was later denied.
  • July 29, 2014: Cornejo and Lee filed a petition for review with the Department of Justice.
  • October 14, 2014: The Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order preventing the DOJ from filing the serious illegal detention case against Cornejo and Lee.
  • February 20, 2015: The Court of Appeals nullified the DOJ resolution finding probable cause against Cornejo and Lee. They also ordered the dismissal of the serious illegal detention case.
  • March 16, 2015: Navarro filed a rape complaint against Cornejo and Lee with the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office.
  • January 11, 2017: The Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office dismissed Navarro’s rape complaint against Cornejo and Lee, citing lack of probable cause.
  • January 17, 2017: Navarro filed a motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his rape complaint.
  • June 7, 2018: The Department of Justice indicted Cornejo and Lee for grave coercion, but not for rape.
  • August 10, 2018: The Taguig City Regional Trial Court issued an arrest warrant against Cornejo and Lee for the grave coercion case.
  • December 7, 2020: The Court of Appeals upheld the indictment of Cornejo and Lee for grave coercion. They also subsequently denied their petition for certiorari.

Do you think the Supreme Court made the right decision? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! 

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