DA drops Boot sexual battery charges against Loyola student

boot

Josh Axelrod, Senior Staff Reporter

Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has decided to drop charges against a Loyola University exchange student who was arrested in September for a sexual battery at The Boot Bar and Grill.

After reviewing video from inside The Boot, the DA determined that the footage conflicted with what the complaining witness told police and did not incriminate Carlos Pena Cifuentes, a 21-year-old originally from Madrid, Spain.

“We invited the complaining witness to review the video evidence at our office and discuss these inconsistencies,” reads a statement from Ken Daley, Orleans Parish DA’s office communication director. “She declined and said she understood our position that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute this case.”

Though Tulane University Police Department Chief Kirk Bouyelas and Loyola University Police Chief Todd Warren declined to comment on the case, Warren earlier told the Loyola Maroon that he disagreed with the move.

“I am appalled,” he said. “I have seen the video, and I think it absolutely corroborates her story.”

Pena’s arrest came after a Loyola student reported being approached and touched without consent and another woman became incapacitated after only one drink, raising suspicion that she had been drugged.

The Sept. 20 incident was one of at least three sexual assaults in Uptown New Orleans that began after victims were approached at The Boot. The first reported incident occurred on Aug. 24 and the second was on Sept. 5.

On Sept. 5 a Loyola student woke up with injuries on the railroad tracks near the corner of Leake Avenue and South Carrolton Avenue after having been approached by an unknown man that night at The Boot. She reported being taken to an unknown location where she was sexually assaulted.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell visited The Boot on Sept. 7 to express support for the victims and speak with bar management about the incidents.

“The city cares,” Cantrell told The Hullabaloo at the time.