La Jolla Crime and Public-Safety News: Nov. 27-Dec. 25, 2019
Former owner of La Jolla restaurant Voce del Mare owner guilty of 20 sexual-assault counts
Daniel Dorado, 61, owner of the former Voce del Mare, an Italian restaurant on La Jolla Boulevard in the Bird Rock area, was charged with sexually assaulting eight women between 2009 and 2018. He has been convicted of 20 felony counts related to sexually assaulting intoxicated or unconscious women over a nine-year period, though jurors were unable to reach verdicts on a dozen other counts and will continue deliberating after the holiday break.
Voce del Mare has since permanently closed.
After a two-week trial and nearly a week of deliberations, jurors on Friday, Dec. 21, 2019 convicted Dorado of 20 counts related to four of the eight alleged victims, and acquitted him of three counts related to one victim.
The panel was unable to reach verdicts on 12 remaining counts.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers declared a mistrial on six of those counts, in which the panel declared they were hopelessly deadlocked, but they will continue deliberating Dec. 30 on six others.
Dorado, who was free on bail throughout the trial, was handcuffed and taken into custody after the guilty verdicts Friday afternoon.
He is accused of meeting the victims — who ranged in age from 22 to 58 — at local bars and restaurants, sometimes under the guise of a job interview for a position at his restaurant or through dating websites, then offering them spiked beverages. The women woke up from unconsciousness to find that Dorado had committed a sex act on them, according to prosecutors.
He was arrested March 2018 on suspicion of assaults on four women. The other women came forward after learning of his arrest, authorities said.
Defense attorneys Kim Santini and Eric Youngquist argued at trial that the sexual encounters with the women were consensual and that there was no evidence to support a contention that the women had been drugged. No so-called “date rape” drugs were detected in any of the victims’ medical screenings, the attorneys said.
The defense contended the women’s symptoms were more indicative of alcohol consumption.
Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto told jurors that even if they didn’t believe the victims were given date rape drugs, evidence from the trial indicated the women drank enough alcohol to become noticeably unable to give consent — in some cases vomiting on themselves or being unable to stand or walk.
Dorado then decided to have sex with them anyway, Coto said.
“You can’t consent to something you don’t know is happening to you,” Coto said. “You can’t make a choice if you are not aware what is happening.”
Youngquist questioned the motivations of some of the alleged victims, particularly some who said they were raped after job interviews at Dorado’s restaurant, then proceeded to work for him even after the alleged assaults and were later fired.
One of the victims dated Dorado for months after her initial meeting with him, in which she told investigators she had drinks with him, became very intoxicated and collapsed, and later woke up naked in a hotel room, the defense attorney said.
Youngquist said the woman was essentially told by police and prosecutors that she was raped, but later testified at trial that she didn’t consider herself a victim. Quoting his co-counsel’s opening statements, Youngquist contended the charges were the result of “an overzealous district attorney and (a) detective” who planted the notion of drugging into the alleged victims’ minds.
Youngquist also said some of the accusers were seeking civil, monetary damages from Dorado, though Coto said only one of the victims filed a lawsuit against Dorado and has since dropped it. — City News Service
Intruders with axes ransack Camina de la Costa home
A resident on Camina de la Costa in La Jolla came home about 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019 to find two masked intruders with axes ransacking her residence. Police officer Robert Heims said the suspects were spotted fleeing the home wearing black ski masks, armed with axes.
The suspects took off in a minivan and have not yet been located. Heims said it was not immediately clear if anything was taken. No injuries were reported.
Police Blotter: La Jolla incidents reported to San Diego Police
Nov. 27, 2019
• Grand theft, 6000 block Avenida Cresta. 12 a.m.
• Vehicle break-in, 1000 block Kline St. 5:30 p.m.
• Grand theft, 200 block Coast Blvd. 5 a.m.
• Petty theft from building, 6400 block Avenida Cresta. 2:29 p.m.
• Vehicle stolen, 6800 block Draper Ave. 8:20 a.m.
• Vandalism over $400, Fanuel St. and Turquoise St. 12:56 p.m.
• Assault, 200 block Prospect St. 10:30 p.m.
• DUI with alcohol, 1200 block Prospect St. 1:12 a.m.
— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff from San Diego Police reports