Jiu-jitsu coach and former The Ultimate Fighter 18 contestant Rafael de Freitas is a free man until the start of his trial.
A judge in Albuquerque (N.M.) Metropolitan Court on Monday denied a motion from prosecutors to keep him detained until the start of his trial for third-degree criminal sexual penetration.
The judge, Charles Brown, also issued a modified protective order to keep de Freitas away from the alleged victim, a former student who accused him of assaulting her on Nov. 7 at her house during a private lesson. De Freitas, who was arrested on Dec. 4, will undergo pre-trial monitoring and is barred from having contact with the alleged victim or her family. He is also ordered to not violate any laws while he remains free.
Prosecution and defense attorneys sparred over the conditions of the order, in particular the access to a security camera video that that purportedly shows the alleged assault. The state believes the video shows the alleged victim was sexually assaulted by de Freitas, while his defense attorneys say it proves a consensual encounter that involved alcohol and liquid THC.
In the criminal complaint against de Freitas, the alleged assault took place when the coach came over to her house after she complained of leg cramping and requested a massage. The two ate breakfast together, and an investigator who watched the tape submitted to the police by the alleged victim said de Freitas appears to “possibly” put something in the her drink while she is in the bathroom.
Assistant District Attorney Savannah Brandenburg-Koch video was explicit and argued the order should prevent extra copies being made to protect the alleged victim and defendant. De Freitas’ defense attorney countered that could prevent routine defense actions, including audio enhancement of the video and viewing by focus groups as part of trial preparation. Judge Brown ultimately ruled one copy could be made for defense purposes.
Arguing for de Freitas’ pre-trial detainment, Brandenburg-Koch said the video shows the alleged victim was completely unconscious – to the point where she wasn’t reacting when her dogs were jumping on her – when de Freitas began to touch her inappropriately. De Freitas, she said, then performed oral sex and digitally penetrated her for over 40 minutes, after which he stopped and neatly laid the alleged victim’s shorts beside her. De Freitas allegedly then went to the kitchen and later removed one of the dogs that again jumped on the alleged victim before leaving the residence. Brandenburg-Koch did not include a detail offered by an investigator in the criminal complaint against de Freitas that he rubbed his genitals with her “limp” hand before leaving.
“Not only were his actions very manipulative, but they were also predatory in nature,” Brandenburg-Koch said. “The defendant is very well known in the community for being a jiu-jitsu fighter, actually the world. Not only could he probably be dangerous in the way he knows how to fight, but now that he is possibly taking advantage of somebody he supposedly cares about. So if he can do this to somebody he cares about, who knows what he can do to somebody he doesn’t care about?”
De Freitas’ attorney argued to judge Brown that the jiu-jitsu coach is a respected member of the community. Restating many of the key points in a statement released to the media after de Freitas’ arrest and criminal charge, he said the coach and alleged victim were friends who became sexual on the afternoon in question. He said the video shows she was moving during the alleged assault and was “moaning” when de Freitas performed oral sex on her.
“She’s actually a participant in the act,” de Freitas’ attorney said.
The defense attorney added that after the alleged assault, the alleged victim sent text messages to de Freitas where she said the experience was “wonderful” and “I wish I could have that every day.” He also said the alleged victim asked, “I fell asleep. Did I do anything appropriate,” and de Freitas responded “no, you’re fine” and didn’t acknowledge anything that wasn’t consensual. In subsequent days, he said, the alleged victim boasted about de Freitas and gave no indication she’d been harmed.
The defense attorney said the case will definitely go to trial, and it will be proven de Freitas is innocent. In a previous statement, de Freitas’ lead attorney Jason Bowles indicated the coach’s only wrongdoing was “a terrible error in his marriage and towards his wife.”
De Freitas is due back in court on Friday for a preliminary hearing on the case. He has pleaded not guilty to the felony charge, which carries a potential sentence of up to three years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
“We think the video shows a very much different role [than the defense claims],” Brandenburg-Koch said. “Regardless of even if she consented prior and then she became unconscious for 40 minutes, he should have stopped. She was unable to consent. Under the law, she was unconscious and therefore not able to give any consent.”
De Freitas has served as the jiu-jitsu coach for several high-profile fighters including former UFC champ Holly Holm and Michelle Waterson. The Jackson Wink MMA Academy where he was showed in multiple videos and social media posts quickly distanced itself from him, stating he was never an employee. He is not listed on the team’s website, as he reportedly was previously, or the Gracie Barra New Mexico Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy where he said he served as the chief instructor.