1:10 A.M. — Federal prosecutors last week dropped charges against an Immokalee man indicted three times last year on accusations of enslaving a relative and forcing her into labor, rape and beatings.
U.S. resident Francisco Francisco Domingo is free after U.S. District Judge Charlene Honeywell signed an order Friday dropping charges of inducing entry of an alien into the country and harboring an alien, forced labor and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He faced life in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy filed a motion to dismiss the charges Friday.
Prosecutors had claimed the then-15-year-old girl, a relative of Domingo’s, was brought to the country from Guatemala to live with her
her “uncle.” She told investigators she was sexually assaulted, brought to houses in Immokalee to pose for pornographic photos, forced to travel throughout the Southeast to labor in fields and beaten by Domingo.
Domingo was indicted on federal charges in March and again in June and September.
Domingo’s attorney, Lee Hollander of Fort Myers, said the girl’s credibility was questioned after he and an investigator discovered the memory stick that contained sexually suggestive photos of the girl were formatted the day she gave them to Collier County sheriff’s deputy Charles Frost.
An affidavit by Frost, however, states the photos were dated June 22, 2008, to Oct. 5, 2008.
“She manufactured false evidence,” Hollander said. “The government, to its credit, recognized that.”
Other evidence in the case – work payment slips from fields the two worked in – showed they worked in separate fields miles apart, though she claimed he sexually assaulted her in the fields, Hollander said.
He said remainder of the evidence against Domingo was the girl’s testimony, which took a hit in credibility after discovering the discrepancy with photos.
“It all depends on how you look at things,” Hollander said. “Her credibility was pretty much shot once she manufactured the evidence.”
Efforts late Tuesday to reach a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa were unsuccessful.