Jury sworn in to hear rape trial of ex-La Jolla restaurant owner
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 11/26/19 - 09:00 AM | 3098 views | 1 1 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Opening statements and testimony will start Monday, Dec. 2 in the rape trial of Daniel Dorado, a former Italian restaurant owner in La Jolla where some women have testified they were sexually assaulted after passing out.

An eight-man, four-woman jury and four alternate jurors were sworn in Nov. 21 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers after several days of jury selection.

Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto said the case is in recess during Thanksgiving week since most folks are busy, but the trial will start the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

Dorado, 61, was the owner of Voce Del Mare on La Jolla Blvd. before the restaurant closed after his arrest on March 28, 2018.  Eight women have alleged he sexually assaulted them inside the restaurant, in La Jolla hotels, or his residence.

All of the women, aged 57-22, claimed they drank some type of wine or champagne that Dorado gave them that caused them to become intoxicated to the point of passing out. His restaurant and home were searched, but no type of drug was found that could have been placed in their drinks.

Some of the alleged incidents go back years. Two women said they met Dorado on a dating website, and others said they were job applicants. Most of them said they threw up and were embarrassed.

The first alleged incident occurred in 2009, and other assaults allegedly happened in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Charges were filed after the last incident after an Orange County woman said she had driven down to meet Dorado in the restaurant after contacting him on a dating website.

The 27 charges allege rape, rape of an unconscious person, forcible oral copulation, digital penetration, felony sexual battery, and assault with intent to commit rape.

Dorado has denied all the charges and he has pleaded not guilty. He has not publicly said anything about the case. It isn't known yet what evidence his attorney will present or if he will testify in his own defense.

He has changed attorneys several times, but they have all said the charges are not true. One former attorney said Dorado was "completely stunned" by the charges and looked forward to getting his day in court and clearing his name.

Dorado was in jail five months before he posted $900,000 bond in September 2018. His bond condition specifies that Dorado cannot drink alcohol. He is divorced and his daughter and son-in-law attended his 2-day preliminary hearing.

The trial is estimated to last two weeks.

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