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Judge discharges teen accused of campus rape, pending investigation

A Petaluma teen who was arrested in March on suspicion of raping a female student at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Petaluma campus was discharged Monday pending further investigation by the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.

“No charges are being filed at this time,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said Monday morning.

Petaluma police arrested Brandon Larrieta Cortes, 19, of Petaluma, on March 14 on suspicion of rape, sodomy and sexual battery. He was booked into Sonoma County Jail but was released on March 18 pending further investigation.

Cortes was in Sonoma County Superior Court Monday when Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite discharged him.

Police said the alleged rape happened in a library on the Petaluma campus on March 11.

The alleged victim reported the sexual assault to the Santa Rosa Junior College District Police Department and Petaluma police joined the investigation as the lead agency, Detective Sgt. Paul Gilman said. Gilman said there were no witnesses in the library to the alleged assault around 10:30 a.m.

Defense attorney Paul Lozada said last month his client and the alleged victim knew each other, and Cortes denies the allegations for which he was arrested.

Cortes also is a student at SRJC’s Petaluma campus, Gilman said.

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