WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Prosecutors say former Wilmington Police officer Wotzvely Perez was carrying his badge and gun when he sexually assaulted a woman. The victim says the two became friends while she worked at a convenience store Perez often visited.
Perez is charged with sexual battery and assault on a female. Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan and defense attorney Jennifer Harjo both agree Perez had sexual contact with the victim, while on duty and in uniform. The question posed to the jury now is was it consensual.
"There are a lot of things that happen in life that we don't like, but there's a big difference between something that is morally and ethically wrong and something that's criminally wrong," defense attorney Samantha Stokes said. "And that's what this case is about."
To protect the victim's identity, we'll call her Jessica. Jessica moved to the Port City and began working at a convenience store, which she says was a popular spot for many Wilmington Police officers. Jessica was also the victim of two robberies while on the job. After the robberies, she says was having a hard time coping with the incident and thought she could seek help from who she thought was a friend: Wotzvely Perez. Jessica invited Perez over to her apartment to talk about the robbery when she says things took a turn for the worse.
"He's touching and kissing her breasts, and she is continuing to say, 'No,'" Jordan said during her opening argument. "She's continuing to say, 'Stop,' and she's continuing to remind him that he's married, and he doesn't listen."
Perez's lawyer says Perez asked Jessica if he could kiss her. Jessica says she put her head down and shook her head no, but Perez leaned in and kissed her. Both sides agree Perez kissed and touched Jessica, but many questions remain about what Jessica and Perez said and what exactly took place that afternoon in her apartment.
The victim was the only person to take the stand today. Testimony is expected to continue tomorrow morning.