LAS CRUCES – A man accused of sexually assaulting women in his family was granted an unsecured bond after spending about two and half years in prison.
Gilbert Uranga, 56, was granted a $5,000 unsecured bond by a judge Friday morning. It was the final of three cases keeping him in jail as he awaits trial in 2022.
Uranga was arrested and booked in March 2019 when several women in his family came forward with allegations that Uranga raped them. In all, five cases were opened against Uranga. The cases also came with large secured bonds that kept Uranga in jail.
All but one of the accusers said that Uranga raped them when they were children. The other accuser told the police she was developmentally disabled.
But a lot has happened since Uranga was arrested, a fact his lawyer, Todd Holmes, was quick to bring up during a motion hearing on Friday.
Holmes pointed out that two of the five cases against Uranga have been resolved. One case was dismissed by prosecutors because the alleged victim died, according to court documents.
In the second resolved case, arising from accusations he raped his daughter, a jury acquitted Uranga on rape and incest charges.
Holmes argued that the prosecutors failed to prove that Uranga was related to the alleged victim, despite Uranga’s admission to police that he paid child support to the woman’s mother and called the alleged victim his daughter during a police interview.
Holmes also argued that any sexual activity that occurred was consensual. During the trial, experts testified that the alleged victim had become pregnant. DNA results showed that Uranga was the father, the experts said.
“That was the strongest case,” Holmes said during the hearing on Friday.
In the remaining three cases, Uranga stands accused of sexually assaulting two nieces and his sister. He faces four charges of criminal sexual penetration across the three cases. All three are scheduled for separate trials in February and March of 2022.
Now, Uranga will be allowed to wait the remaining five months until the trials begin at home.
Third Judicial District Judge Conrad Perea began to set a $10,000 secured bond on Friday, but altered the ruling during the hearing. Uranga said that he would not be able to fork out $10,000 to bond out of jail, so Perea dropped the bond to $5,000 and made it unsecured. An unsecured bond means Uranga won’t have to pay unless he violates the conditions of his release.
During the hearing, Perea said that he was compelled by state law to grant Uranga a bond that he could afford. Perea said that the reason he was reducing the bond at Uranga’s request was that Uranga demonstrated he was incapable of paying the previous bond.
“I have held you for quite a long time,” Perea said. “We need to go to trial on these cases.”
Release conditions and harassment
Perea gave Uranga standard conditions of release — no drugs, no alcohol, no additional charges and no contact with alleged victims — but added with something extra. Perea said that Uranga’s family was not to have any contact with the alleged victims as well.
“If there’s anything that could jeopardize this case, it’s them talking to the (alleged victims),” Perea said.
The additional conditions stemmed from accusations that Uranga’s family, specifically his wife and daughter, had harassed two alleged victims. The two alleged victims said during the hearing that they feared Uranga’s family would continue to harass them if Uranga was released.
“His wife and daughter have already tried to attack me a couple of months ago at a gas station,” one of the alleged victims said.
She said that Uranga’s daughter (not the woman who accused him of rape) punched her window while his wife shouted at her during this incident. She said she contacted the police
“I just think that if he gets out, it’s going to be a little worse,” the alleged victim said.
But Uranga spoke on his own behalf and said that his family would not retaliate against any witnesses and that he would comply with the release conditions.
“I don’t know anything about these allegations,” Uranga said during the hearing. “I’m here on a bunch of lies, but that’s going to be for a later date.”
Bryan Gelecki, assistant district attorney, said that if the DA’s office got word of any harassment, they would file a motion to revoke Uranga’s conditions of release.