At downtown press conference, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy said: “I did not do what Rendon accuses me of doing.” Photo by Chris Stone

A subdued William Rodriguez-Kennedy on Friday presented what he called audiotape proof that he didn’t rape his former boyfriend as alleged in a civil suit.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy statement and transcript of sex tape.

Reporters at a downtown press conference heard a 5-minute sex tape that the sidelined San Diego County Democratic Party chair and his legal team say showed “consent to the max.”

“Today I am forced to sacrifice my dignity and privacy in order to prove that my ex-boyfriend has falsely accused me of a horrible crime that I did not commit,” Rodriguez-Kennedy said in a statement with two lawyers by his side. “It has become clear that his intent is malicious and has been designed to cause maximum emotional and political pain.”

Lawyers for the 35-year-old party leader, both working pro bono, said they had left voice mail messages with Dan Gilleon, representing the accuser — Oscar Rendon, 23.

Their outreach was an attempt to get Gilleon to drop the case due to the audio evidence.

“Oscar Rendon was not a victim of a sexual assault but an enthusiastic participant,” said attorney Gene Iredale. “Indeed (he was) the person who initiated a sexual encounter.”

He said the claim that a rape occurred while Rendon was unconscious or while he was drunk is an “outrageous lie.”

Partly thanks to the tape, made without Rendon’s awareness, the District Attorney’s Office decided not to press criminal charges against Rodriguez-Kennedy, the lawyers said in a nearly hourlong session.

“And all I can say is thank God that this is not a case of he said-he said — that there does exist independent corroboration of what really happened,” Iredale said.

Asked how the tape could be admissible at trial, the lawyers including Marlea Dell’Anno cited an exception to the penal code.

“If someone has good faith belief that they may be subject to extortion, they have the right to record a communication,” Iredale told reporters in an empty dining room at Athens Market Taverna.

Attorney Iredale implored reporters not to post the actual audio, fearing that “somebody makes a meme of it.” He distributed a transcript instead.

Why did Rodriguez-Kennedy tape the encounter?

“In his mind, something flashed through about a statement that Oscar Rendon had made many months before (that his) mother was a sex worker in Tijuana and he was laughing at how she was able to manipulate and exploit her clients,” Iredale told a half-dozen rapt reporters.

Gilleon called that reasoning “stunningly despicable.”

“This is a new low,” the downtown lawyer said. “All predators attack the victim, and Kennedy and crew have done this to the extreme. But to attack his victim’s mother?”

Gilleon answered other questions via email:

TIMES OF SAN DIEGO: Marlea says she and Gene left a voice mail message asking you to call them back. Did you ever hear the voice mail?

DAN GILLEON: No. Any lawyer who wants to contact another attorney about something important does so in writing.

Oscar says he stayed with Rodriguez-Kennedy two or three times a week for four months after the August 2021 incident. Your response?

He wanted to believe that Kennedy was in love with him and hadn’t done this to him in a violent, malicious way. This is typical for survivors of abuse by former partners. With time, Oscar realized it had all been a fraud from the beginning, and that Kennedy’s premeditated manipulation on his birthday was nothing but a criminal act of a sexual predator.

The fact Kennedy would, with premeditation, violate the law and record his inebriated victim speaks volumes about his criminal intent that night.

Rodriguez-Kennedy’s lawyers say the tape indicates sexual consent “to the max.”

Objection. Relevance. Sustained. There’s no such thing as consent when the victim is inebriated. His lawyers either don’t know what they’re doing, or they’re just trying to confuse the media and taint the jury pool.

What does this audio prove? That Kennedy had sex knowing he was committing a crime and therefore committed another crime as a defense to the first one.

Rodriguez-Kennedy lawyers say DA verified tape was made when he said it was made. Your response?

[Rodriguez-Kennedy] is a proven liar when it comes to what the DA has said, so I assume it’s another lie about an irrelevant nothing-burger.

Rodriguez-Kennedy’s statement says Oscar falsely accused him of a crime “designed to cause maximum emotional and political pain.” Your response?

Poor Will! You’re the victim now? I guess desperation makes a person try anything, especially someone who knows how many people will be testifying that Will also sexually assaulted them.

Can you provide texts or social media posts that support Oscar’s version of events?

Sure

Marlea says suits like Oscar’s make it harder for sex-assault victims to come forward because of their stories being challenged. Your response?

What makes it harder for victims to come forward is the vicious attack with irrelevant nonsense, not only on the victim, but on the victim’s mother.

Anything else readers should know about Oscar’s case or WRK response?

Yes, we’ve amended the complaint to include a cause of action for the illegal recording.

Iredale, who represented Rodriguez-Kennedy in the DA’s investigation, told a story about former Reagan-era labor Secretary Ray Donovan, who was charged in a corruption scandal but ultimately found not guilty.

“And when he came out after having been acquitted, he said: What office do I go to to get my reputation back?”

Iredale also said: “This civil case is a classic case of malicious prosecution … being brought for the purpose of harming and tormenting someone and also causing harm to his reputation in order to wreak maximum political damage to him. It’s ugly and it’s wrong.”

When the allegations first surfaced in May, Rodriguez-Kennedy denied the claims and subsequently announced that he was taking a leave of absence as the party’s chair.

The lawsuit alleges that the men and others went out to several local bars on the night of Aug. 18, 2021, — Rendon’s birthday — and by the end of the night, the alleged victim was drunk and “coerced” by Rodriguez-Kennedy into going home with him.

The suit states he does not remember the trip to Rodriguez-Kennedy’s home, nor going inside, due to his level of intoxication.

His next recollection was of Rodriguez-Kennedy allegedly raping him in the early morning hours of Aug. 19, the suit states.

A police report attached with the lawsuit indicates the alleged victim spoke with San Diego police in March. The lawsuit states that he “tried to deal with the trauma on his own for several months until he sought advice from a college professor who advised (him) that he had been raped by Kennedy and that he should report the assault to the police.”

Rodriguez-Kennedy’s attorneys contend the audio recording was made at about 1:30 a.m. and that metadata confirms it was recorded on that time and date.

Dell’Anno said the recording was part of other evidence the defense team had that would show “Mr. Rodriguez-Kennedy’s complete and total innocence in this matter” and that the lawsuit is “frivolous on its face.”

Dell’Anno said that she would write attorney Gilleon and give Rendon 21 days to dismiss his lawsuit “or face sanctions from the court. This is only part of the evidence that we have. … I cannot imagine that Mr. Rendon shared the truth with his counsel.”

The attorneys declined to elaborate on what other evidence they had, other than witnesses they said would testify that the accuser was not intoxicated that night.

The lawsuit also names San Diego Councilman Stephen Whitburn as a defendant. Whitburn is not accused of any assault, but instead of failing to prevent the alleged rape. The lawsuit alleges Whitburn lived at the residence where the incident occurred, saw the alleged victim was intoxicated, and should have known that an assault was likely to happen if he did not intervene.

Attorneys representing Whitburn could not immediately be reached for comment.

City News Service contributed to this report.



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Ellen Bullock