SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A former La Jolla restaurant owner convicted of raping multiple women is speaking out from jail. Daniel Dorado spoke exclusively with ABC10 News in a series of recorded interviews.
Dorado was sentenced on Tuesday to 40 years in prison in a hearing where several victims shared their emotional stories with the courtroom.
Dorado maintains his innocence and accuses law enforcement officials of conspiring against him, although he lacks evidence to back his claims. Per ABC10 News' continued efforts to practice balanced reporting and given the impact his arrest and prosecution had on the community, ABC10 News has chosen to share his story.
"This is the first time and only time I've spoken to anybody to this degree," 62-year-old Dorado told ABC10 News. The former owner of Voce del Mare restaurant has been incarcerated at George Bailey Detention Facility since being convicted last December on 20 counts related to rape and sexual assault of four unconscious and intoxicated victims.
"You're vilified 24-7," he told ABC10 News and added, "Nobody made these women do anything. It was all very consented."
ABC10 News broke the story two years ago when Dorado was charged with drugging and raping women, sometimes at his restaurant. ABC10 News previously spoke to one woman who said that it happened to her.
"I went in there for a job interview. I would have never imagined going through a sexual assault and not knowing how it happened," she told ABC10 News during the 2018 interview. She said that she answered an ad on Craigslist for a hostess position, and when she went in for an interview, she said Dorado offered her wine, which she accepted. What happened next is unclear.
"What I do recall is waking up around four in the morning and I did not have any clothes on. He had nothing on. [There were] bruises around my chest. I was in great pain," she explained.
At trial, some of his former employees talked about working for him. "He was very erratic. His behavior...he would say one thing and be yelling at you [and] then nice the next second," one person testified.
"I will not be satisfied until I'm exonerated," Dorado stated in one of his recent interviews from jail. He denies any wrongdoing and says that every sexual encounter was consensual.
Dorado said he believes that the DA's Office unfairly bolstered a conviction against him although his argument is based on speculation. ABC10 has asked, "What evidence do you have to support that?" Dorado replied in part, "I don't have any evidence. That belongs to the detectives."
Dorado pointed to one encounter with a woman who he said came to his restaurant after they'd met on a dating app. "In that window of time between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., she had two martinis, each with an ounce and a half of vodka and three ounces of cranberry juice. I gave her the opportunity to drive home because her van was right in front and I [asked], 'Or, would you like to continue our day and join me for lunch?' She joined me for lunch and we never drank again," he explained.
That lunch date and the eventual sexual encounter was at the Bahia Resort Hotel where he claims that resort surveillance video would have revealed that she was conscious and coherent. Still, he said the video was not shown in court. He accused detectives and DA's Office of purposefully withholding it.
Dorado also said that he believes he was recorded in a pretext call staged by detectives in which the victim called to solicit incriminating statements. Dorado believes that she was disgruntled after their date.
"You have to keep something in mind. I did not call this woman back for several weeks after we met, okay, and so my attorney told me flat out [that] this is a case of buyer's remorse," he told ABC10 News.
ABC10 News asked, "Why would multiple women who don't know each other do this to you?" He replied in part, "Several reasons. Attention. Financial. Popular." He insisted, though, that he's not intending to blame or shame victims.
Dorado told ABC10 News that another victim was his friend and that authorities pressured her to testify against him. "The District Attorney and the judge allowed me to still interact with her [and] allowed me to [live] with her. She let me live in her townhouse during my bail," he stated and questioned, "What judge allows a rapist to live with their victim?"
At this week's sentencing hearing, she was the only victim who spoke out in his defense. She accused detectives of manipulating her to testify against her will and appear confused about a possible assault.
In court, she stated, "Your Honor, Mr. Dorado never raped me. I never went to the police. I never filed a police report. In fact, I declined a restraining order against Mr. Dorado and I told detectives that I did not want to press charges."
On the phone Tuesday night, she declined to offer any more public comment.
ABC10 News reached out to the attorney who represented the victim who said that she answered the ad on Craigslist to get her position on his accusations. The victim has not called to provide comment.
The DA's Office sent the following statement to ABC10 News:
"The District Attorney's Office presented evidence in open court, a jury found we proved our case beyond a reasonable doubt and convicted the defendant of these violent crimes. The victims in this case deserve justice and will have the opportunity to be heard at sentencing."
A follow-up statement from the DA's Office after the sentencing hearing read,
"[Tuesday's] comments in open court by the judge, the victims, and our prosecutor along with the evidence presented at trial, all support the just result and appropriate sentence in this case."
The San Diego Police Department sent ABC10 News the following statement:
"The San Diego Police Department is committed to maintaining public safety by providing the highest quality police services. The department's Sex Crimes Unit thoroughly investigated all incidents brought to our attention, and we appreciate the San Diego County District Attorney's efforts to help seek justice for all who have been victimized by Mr. Dorado."
"I'm hurt. I'm angry. My life has been ruined," Dorado told ABC10 News and added, "I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm looking for the truth."
One of the victims filed a civil suit against Dorado after he was arrested. The attorney for the victim said that they have since asked for the case to be dismissed, which was granted.