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Jury continues to deliberate in La Jolla restaurant owner's sex assault trial

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Posted at 10:18 AM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 13:18:11-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Jurors will continue deliberating Monday on if a La Jolla restaurant owner convicted of 20 felony counts related to sexually assaulting intoxicated or unconscious women over a nine-year period will be convicted or acquitted of an additional six felonies.

Daniel Dorado, 61, owner of Voce del Mare, an Italian restaurant on La Jolla Boulevard in the Bird Rock area, was charged for sexual assaults of eight women in 2009, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.

After a two-week trial and nearly a week of deliberations, jurors convicted Dorado on Dec. 20 of the 20 counts and acquitted him of three counts related to one specific victim. The convicted counts cover conduct related to four of the eight alleged victims.

However, the panel was unable to reach verdicts on 12 remaining counts.

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San Diego County Superior Court Judge Charles G. Rogers declared a mistrial on six of those counts, in which the panel declared they were hopelessly deadlocked, but they will continue deliberating Monday on six other counts related to three alleged victims.

Dorado is accused of meeting the victims -- who range 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. Prosecutors alleged he offered the women spiked beverages, causing them to fall unconscious. Some victims reported waking up in the middle of sex acts with Dorado, while others alleged they woke up and only discovered later that they'd been sexually assaulted.

Dorado was taken into custody in March 2018 on suspicion of assaults on four women. The other alleged victims came forward after learning of his arrest.

Defense attorneys Kim Santini and Eric Youngquist alleged at trial that the sexual encounters with the women were consensual and that no evidence supported that the women had been drugged, as date rape drugs were not detected in any of the victims' medical screenings. The defense contended the women's supposed 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 to become noticeably unable to consent -- in some cases vomiting on themselves or rendered unable to stand or walk -- yet Dorado decided to have sex with them anyway.