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Vhong Navarro, Deniece Cornejo rape case: Timeline, details of events

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Vhong Navarro, Deniece Cornejo rape case: Timeline, details of events
Composite image of Deniece Cornejo and Vhong Navarro
The STAR / file, Jesse Bustos

Trigger warning: rape, sexual assault, physical assault

MANILA, Philippines — Host-actor Vhong Navarro was recently detained by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) following a warrant of arrest for rape, a non-bailable offense, in connection to a complaint filed by model Deniece Cornejo.

Prior to his detainment, Navarro posted bail worth P36,000, in response to an arrest warrant on acts of lasciviousness, also in connection to a complaint by Cornejo.

The two happenings are just the latest episodes in a long-running controversy between the two celebrities since 2014, when Cornejo accused Navarro of raping her.

Navarro has repeatedly denied such accusations, and it spiralled into a number of affidavits, complaints, and filings over the years.

Here is a timeline detailing the events according to Cornejo that led to the arrest warrants for Navarro, most of which are documented in a July 2022 ruling by the Court of Appeals that moved in favor of Cornejo.

First interactions

Cornejo and Navarro first met at a shoe brand event in a Makati mall, where Navarro was the brand's celebrity endorser. An event staff member asked for Cornejo's mobile number, through which she believes Navarro got her number. Cornejo said she initially gave her contact details as she thought it was for work reasons. She added that she was surprised to receive messages from Navarro because she didn't give him her number.

Just not to appear snub, Cornejo eventually replied to Navarro's messages and the two kept in correspondence over text, Viber, and Facebook. Cornejo said she always declined any invitation by Navarro to meet up as she was focusing on her work as a model and entrepreneur, and on school — she was then studying in De La Salle University.

Out of courtesy, Cornejo would still reply to Navarro's messages and a friendship was built, to the point that she would call him "Kuya Vhong."

Cornejo then agreed to meet Navarro for dinner and drinks on January 17, 2014, but she also planned to bring her friend Ana Peña along as a safety precaution.

Navarro explained to her that it would be best if they met in private to avoid any rumors, thus, Cornejo agreed to let him into her condominum unit in Forbeswood, Bonifacio Global City, knowing that Ana would be joining.

Attached in Cornejo's affidavit are screenshots of her text exchanges with Vhong as well as Ana's text messages and sworn statement that she agreed to supposedly accompany Deniece in the condo that day.

The night of January 17, 2014

Cornejo met Navarro in the Forbeswood lobby, even introducing him to the guard on duty, and took him to her unit; Cornejo left the door closed but unlocked out of habit whenever she had visitors over.

Related: 'Binabaligtad kami': Vhong Navarro faces non-bailable arrest warrant

The model proceeded to continue working on her laptop while waiting for her friend to arrive, ignoring Navarro's offer to drink wine that he had brought and poured for her.

Cornejo told Navarro she was waiting for Ana to arrive, to which he remarked, "Ah talaga, akala ko tayong dalawa lang."

Ana then called Deniece to tell her that she could not make it anymore, so Deniece asked Navarro to leave.

Navarro insisted on staying longer, joking that he could sleepover, but Cornejo would not budge. But because she felt like a bad host, Cornejo accepted the glass of wine Navarro offered her.

Cornejo then suddenly felt dizzy and unable to move, and after which, she claimed that Navarro began caressing her. When she gained some strength, she sent a very short text message to her friend Cedric Lee, saying that she was being harassed. Navarro then became more aggressive, to the point of pushing her into her bed as her condo was a studio-type unit.

What succeeded was, according to Cornejo, was Navarro forcing himself upon her — without her consent as she was in a slurred state. She recalled being too weak to escape or fight back when Navarro forced her to do "disgusting" things.

As soon as he was done, Navarro immediately ran away and left Deniece in her condo. She remembered unable to do anything as she was still in shock and trauma.

Soon after Navarro left Deniece's unit, Cedric arrived with several other individuals. Cornejo shared to Cedric what transpired before they came. Cedric then suggested reporting the incident to local authorities, but in her shame, Cornejo opted not to let anyone else know about the incident.

The night of January 22, 2014

Cornejo said that Navarro contacted her to ask if she was home as he intended to apologize, which the model saw as an opportunity for her friends Cedric, his sister Bernice, Simeon "Zmmer" Raz, and Edgardo Sampana, to witness.

Cornejo informed the guard that Navarro was arriving, although the comedian asked if they could meet in the lobby as he forgot her unit number. During this time, Bernice Lee, Raz, and Sampana went to a fire escape to smoke cigarettes.

The model was then surprised to find Navarro in the elevator on her way down, and so she brought him to her unit. Soon after, Cornejo claimed that Navarro pushed her to the living area and pressed himself on top of her.

What succeeded was, according to Cornejo, was Navarro forcing himself upon her in what she contends constitutes as attempted rape. Fortunately for her, Bernice Lee, Raz, and Sampana had returned to her unit.

The three restrained Navarro while Cornejo proceeded downstairs to inform the guards, and there, she saw Cedric and some companions — Lee then suggested they perform a citizen's arrest.

Cornejo's friend then took Navarro to a police station to press rape charges, and while giving their statements, the actor pleaded to keep the issue away from the public eye for the sake of his career.

Related: Vhong Navarro detained by NBI following arrest warrant for rape

In sworn statements by the police attached to Cornejo's affidavit, Navarro confessed to the rape and also in the actor's belongings, authorities found a tin can of sex pills and "date rape drug" commonly known as “GBL” or “GHB,” which is usually dropped into a drink to make the victim dizzy and paralyzed.

"They are sometimes called 'paralyzing' since the person often loses muscle control and is unable to move or call for help," Healthline described the effects of a date rape drug.

Out of exhaustion and trauma, Cornejo spent the night in a friend's house, but upon returning to her condo the next day, she found her unit ransacked and robbed. 

Navarro's contests

Navarro confirmed that he agreed to meet with Cornejo on January 17, 2014, but claimed that the sexual encounter that followed was consensual.

As for the night of January 22, 2014, Navarro indeed went up to Cornejo's unit, but when he saw her leave the unit, two men then appeared from her room and began physically assaulting him.

Navarro said he had a gun pointed at him, was blindfolded, gagged, and beaten some more. When his blindfold was removed, he identified the people in the room as Cornejo, Lee, Bernice, Simeon "Zmmer" Raz, and several others.

Navarro claimed that while still at gunpoint and on video, he was forced to say, “Ako si Vhong Navarro, ni-rape ko ang kaibigan ko,” followed by more beatings.

The actor said he did not give any statement at the police station out of fear of more physical altercations and being blackmailed with the video.

This led to Navarro filing complaints for serious illegal detention, serious physical injuries, grave threats, grave coercion, illegal arrest, and threatening to publish and offer to prevent such publication for a compensation.

Following actions

After a flurry of dismissed complaints and affidavits between parties, Cornejo asserted that her most recent complaint contained a more thorough and detailed account of the events, and that she had the backing of three other alleged victims of Navarro — beauty queen Roxanne Cabañero, stunt woman Margarita Fajardo, and former TV host Katherine Alano.

With the Court of Appeals reversing and setting aside past resolutions and instead granting Cornejo's petitions, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Taguig City was then directed to file warrants against Navarro for rape by sexual intercourse and acts of lasciviousness.

As of writing, Navarro is currently detained in the NBI-Security and Management Section while his legal team prepares to file a motion for reconsideration (MR).

"May kulang na materials but will definitely file MR (motion for reconsideration) today or tomorrow (September 21)," said Navarro's lawyer Atty. Alma Mallonga.

Mallonga reiterated that Navarro is the “victim of illegal detention and grave coercion,” contrary to the claim of Cornejo, though her client is open to a dialogue with Cornejo’s camp to drop the cases filed against Navarro.

RELATED: 'Finally... justice': Kat Alano says after Vhong Navarro arrest warrant issued

DENIECE CORNEJO

VHONG NAVARRO

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