The Rev. Rolando Benas and Sandra Carrasco met just once, after midnight at a Motel 6 off the highway in Sunnyvale. He recognized her from the attractive photograph she had sent him in the mail. She knew him by his priest’s collar. The next morning, she was in tears on Highway 101, says the San Joe Mercury News. Four days later, he was under arrest on a charge of rape. She said she had only been seeking spiritual counsel, not sex; he admitted that at first she had said “no” but had eventually consented.
To detectives it was clear a clergyman had taken advantage of a mentally fragile woman he was counseling, that he might be a danger to others. They announced his arrest with fanfare. But three weeks after the case came to the district attorney, it was dropped, and all the anger, shame and embarrassment was left hanging in the air. Today, the dramatic case of the priest accused of rape has turned into a story of loss in all their houses: for the investigators, who still feel a culprit got away; for the prosecutor, troubled by the case she concluded wasn’t a crime; for Benas, whose mug shot was splayed across television screens and newspapers; and for Carrasco, who is tormented by grief and guilt. The full details of the case, including Carrasco’s identity, never came to light at the time. The Mercury News fills in the blanks.