IOWA CITY — An Iowa City man accused of sexually abusing two children asked for lower bail last week, but instead, a judge increased his bail to $250,000.
Jorge Maldonado, 28, asked the court to lower his bail of $35,000, which was set at his initial hearing and before the charges were bumped up to four charges of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse.
In that case, Maldonado is charged with four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse. He is accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old and another child younger than 12 on multiple occasions from June 1 through Dec. 31, 2019. In one incident, he hit the 12-year-old and threatened to kill them, burn them with cigarettes, burn down their house and kill the child’s family.
He also asked that a $41,000 bail in a separate case be lowered for charges of domestic assault (third or subsequent offense) and child endangerment, both felonies, and two counts of child endangerment and driving while revoked, all misdemeanors.
John Bruzek, Maldonado’s lawyer, argued Friday that both bails should be lowered to something “reasonable for this defendant.” His family could afford possibly $25,000 in the sex abuse case and $10,000 cash or surety in the domestic case, Bruzek said.
He said the sexual abuse charge is based on the “alleged victim’s allegation” and there is no other evidence. It’s a “He said, she said” case, Bruzek said.
Bruzek also said Maldonado has family ties in the community, and two of his brothers testified that he could work for them at their roofing company while on pretrial release.
Assistant Johnson County Attorney Rachel Zimmermann Smith asked the court to increase the bail to $250,000 cash only in the sex abuse case and leave the bail at $41,000 in the domestic case. She argued Maldonado has a lengthy criminal history with many convictions, including for assaults and two for domestic abuse. Maldonado also has been charged three times for failing to appear in court, she added.
Candace Accord, an official with the 6th Judicial Department of Correctional Services, testified Maldonado also had several assault convictions in Illinois and a conviction for resisting police in Wisconsin.
6th Judicial District Judge Chad Kepros noted in his ruling that the two prior domestic abuse convictions had the same victim as reported in the pending case.
Kepros said a review of the minutes of testimony indicates the evidence isn’t limited to a “he said, she said” case as suggested by Bruzek. Even if the evidence was limited, it doesn’t support or require a lower bail, the judge said.
Kepros increased the bail to $250,000 cash or surety because Maldonado is facing four Class A felonies and two Class B felonies. The bail will protect the community and the victims and secure his appearances in court, Kepros said in the ruling.
The bail in the domestic case was lowered by Kepros because the uniform bond schedule recommends it should be $15,000 for two Class D felonies and misdemeanor charges. Kepros, however, used his discretion, based on an “individual assessment,” and set bail at $25,000 cash or surety.
If Maldonado posts bail, he will be released to the supervision of correctional services and be under GPS monitoring.
A trial on the sex abuse charges is set for Sept. 22.
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