Ocean City Today

Silver Spring man found guilty of raping minor

Jun 22, 2017

(June 23, 2017) Erick Humberto Ramirez, one of five men who was charged with attacking an unconscious 17-year-old girl in an Ocean City hotel last summer, was found guilty Monday of second-degree rape and filming child porn.

A Circuit Court jury in Snow Hill also convicted Ramirez, 21, of Silver Spring, of second-, third- and fourth-degree sex offenses and second-degree assault for the incident that occurred on May 29, 2016.

Ocean City and Worcester County police said he had videotaped four other men undressing, inappropriately touching, and raping a teenager in the Dunes Manor Hotel on 28th Street.

Ramirez’s face went white when the guilty verdicts were read, and ultimately put his head in his hands and trembled. He was sentenced 23 years, with five suspended, for all crimes.

The jury reached its verdict roughly 15 minutes after hearing hours of testimony from the victim, Ocean City Police detectives and sheriff’s deputies. A dozen videos and photographs recovered from Ramirez’s phone during his drug arrest last June were central to Assistant State’s Attorney Diane Karsnitz’s case.

“This may not be what you expect from a sexual assault case,” Karsnitz said to the jury in closing arguments. “Typically, these cases come down to he said/she said, with motive and corroborative witnesses. I think the videos speak for themselves, and Mr. Ramirez’s cell phone says everything.”

Videos stored on Ramirez’s phone showed the unconscious girl lying face down on a hotel bed. Some clips that were shown to the jury showed other men undressing her, smacking her on the buttocks, and touching her vagina. One photograph recovered showed Ramirez taking a selfie while the other assailants undressed the girl in the background. Another showed Ramirez’s hand touching the teenager inappropriately.

Ocean City Police detectives were able to identify Ramirez in the videos as well as four others: Ronaldo E. Ramirez, 20, and Elmer E. Casco-Hernandez, 21 of Silver Spring and Kevin J. Caceres, 20 and Anthony B. Alvarenga, 21, of Rockville, Maryland.

The victim did not know she had been attacked until Worcester deputies interviewed her at her home in November. She later testified that she was visiting Ocean City with friends for Memorial Day weekend, and met with a friend on the Boardwalk, who in turn introduced her to the group of attackers.

The victim knew some of her assailants from high school and friends of friends, but she met Ramirez for the first time on May 29. She had taken a Xanax and went to the hotel with Ramirez and others to smoke marijuana before she blacked out.

The next thing the teenager remembered was waking up the next day with her clothes put on improperly.

The videos of the incident were shared in various group text messages with the co-defendants and other unknown individuals. Several chats between the group included lewd and profane messages.

Ramirez himself shot two videos, one an extreme close-up of the victim’s face while she was passed out. Two hours before the assault, Ramirez texted others that he was “[getting ready to] gang-bang a bitch.”

Defense Attorney Jeffrey Henry called no witnesses and argued that the evidence showed Ramirez’s active participation in the crime was circumstantial at best. Video footage shows a hand with the sleeve of a gray sweatshirt touching the victim, and earlier images show Ramirez wearing a gray hoodie.

“Would you want to be convicted that your hand was in an image?” Henry said in closing arguments. “The victim said that she met Mr. Ramirez once, but positively identified him in photographs presented. Reasonable doubt is not ‘it might have been him, probably was him.’”

Karsnitz argued that it was implausible that the assailants changed clothes during the incident. She added that while Ramirez did not rape the teenager, his actions recorded by his cell phone proved he aided the crime.

“There’s three options in this instance: he could have told them to stop, he could have walked out of the hotel room and pretended not to see anything, or encouraging it by recording it. He sent messages before the assault began…. How much of an accomplice can you be?” she said.

Ramirez is the first to be found guilty by a jury, but two of his other co-defendants who faced the same charges struck plea deals with the state. Casco-Hernandez and Caceres pleaded guilty to second-degree sex offense and filming child porn, and both were sentenced to 14 years in prison. All but seven years were suspended.

Alvarenga, who admitted to Ocean City Police to his and other’s involvement in the crime during the investigation, is set for a jury trial on June 29. Ronaldo Ramirez, who is accused of raping the unconscious teenager, has jury trial scheduled for July 18.

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