Crime

Jury watches video of alleged rape in Fort Worth trial of former The Library Bar owner

A former downtown Fort Worth bar owner walked up behind a woman who appeared unable to move and had sex with her before he escorted her out of the bar, according to a surveillance video jurors watched Tuesday morning.

The video was shown to a jury of 10 men and two women Tuesday on the second day of the sexual assault trial against Israel Espiricueta, 42, of Austin.

But defense witness after defense witness testified Tuesday afternoon the woman flirted with and hugged Espiricueta hours before the alleged rape on the morning of Dec. 23, 2017, and the woman showed up with him at the bar on the afternoon of Dec. 23, 2017.

Espiricueta was an owner at The Library Bar. He is accused of raping the passed-out woman inside the business after hours.

If convicted, the former bar owner faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the charge.

Prosecutors Julie Harbin and Elizabeth Kamber rested their case just before noon Tuesday and just after showing the jury the surveillance video.

The woman testified Monday.

The video

Jurors watched the video Tuesday morning which began as the woman sat barely moving at the bar.

Police said the woman had passed out inside the downtown bar and the assault was caught on the bar’s surveillance cameras.

For most of the video, the woman kept her hands on the bar, laying her head on them.

A Fort Worth detective identified a man in the video as Espiricutea to the jury. Espiricueta can be seen turning off lights in the club and escorting customers out.

Just before 6 a.m on Dec. 23, 2017, Espiricueta walks behind the woman, pulls her pants down and has sex with her. The woman barely moved, according to the video.

After a few minutes, Espiricueta pulls the woman’s pants up. He hugs her as he stands behind her.

Espiricueta later can be seen helping the woman up from the bar and escorting her out. The woman told police Espiricueta continued to sexually assault her at a hotel after they left the bar.

An examination at a Fort Worth hospital later found that the woman had suffered multiple tears and abrasions to her genitalia.

The defense

On Tuesday morning, defense attorney Chip Lewis questioned the detective about how many times the woman had lied to authorities during the investigation.

Lewis said that the woman had deleted text messages from her to Espiricueta from her cell phone and never told detectives about it, and that she told detectives there was no physical contact between her and Espiricueta but the video showed the two kissing.

And the defense attorney pointed out to the jurors that the woman had told detectives she had spent just a short time at the bar, but the video showed that she was there for almost two hours.

A former bartender at The Library Bar testified Tuesday afternoon the woman sought out Espiricueta in November 2017 when she was at the bar with a friend and learned that Espiricueta was part owner of the bar.

A month later, the woman showed up at The Library Bar after its 2 a.m. closing on Dec. 23, 2017 and focused her attention on Espiricueta, defense witnesses said.

They cuddled and held hands as the staff cleaned the bar, according to testimony. Later when the woman had her head down on the bar, a video was posted of her on SnapChat.

“She wasn’t falling down and I never saw her passed out,” former The Library Bar bartender Morgan Snell told the jury Tuesday afternoon.

Snell also testified she saw the woman and Espiricueta on the afternoon of Dec. 23, 2017 at the bar.

“They were talking to each other. She wasn’t crying,” Snell said. “She seemed to be in a good mood.”

Toxicology results showed the woman had no date rape drug in her system after the incident.

A judge tightened Espiricueta’s bond conditions in September, requiring that he wear a GPS monitor and stay out of bars and strip clubs — including his own bar unless it was after business hours. The special conditions were in place after social media posts alleged Espiricueta had been seen visiting Fort Worth bars.

The trial resumes Wednesday morning in Criminal District Court No. 213.

This report contains information from Star-Telegram archives.

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